The Tampa Bay Buccaneers added some depth to their defensive line with the signing of free-agent defensive tackle Akiem Hicks.
Hicks signing with the Bucs fills one of the few remaining holes on the roster.
Hicks comes to Tampa after a five-year career with the Chicago Bears. Hicks signs a one-year deal worth $6.5 million-plus incentives.
With the signing of Hicks, that pretty much closes the door on the Buccaneers resigning Ndamukong Suh. One of the priorities of the Bucs was to get younger at defensive tackle, and they accomplished this by drafting Logan Hall from Houston and the signing Hicks, who is three years younger than Suh.
The knock-on Hicks is he is injury prone. Hicks played just five games in 2019 and nine for the Bears in 2021.
Suh has never missed a game due to injury in his career. He did miss two games in 2011 for stepping on the arm of Packers offensive linemen Evan Dietrich-Smith.
Suh led the Bucs in defensive snaps the last season with 717. The Bucs are betting on Hicks staying healthy and able to play close to the same number of snaps as Suh. It is a gamble the Bucs are hoping will pay off.
Hicks, 32 years of age, is entering his 11th season in the NFL. His best season was 2018 when he had 7.5 sacks and 55 tackles, 12 for loss.
Hampered by injuries last season, Hick’s numbers fell as he had 3-1/2 sacks and 25 tackles.
Hicks has 40-1/2 career sacks and will be a force in the middle of the Buc’s defensive line along with Vita Vea.
With Suh not resigned by the Bucs, Tampa lacked depth and overall experience at the position.
The 6-foot-4, 335-pound Hicks will join a rotation at defensive tackle with Vita Vea, Logan Ryan, Will Gholston, and Rakeem Nunez-Roches.
Hicks will play a lot in the end position in Todd Bowles’s defensive scheme. The Bucs also count on second-round draft pick Logan Hall to step in and contribute.
The team will also be looking for improvement from Joe Tryon-Shoyinka as he enters his second season.
Hicks’s strength will be in rushing the quarterback, not so much stopping the run. It’s not that Hicks is terrible against the run, but he makes his money rushing the passer.
After being first in the NFL in run defense in 2019, and 2020, the run defense slipped to third overall last season.
The signing of Hicks is the biggest free-agent signing by the Bucs this off-season.
The Bucs were already the favorites to win the NFC South and one of the favorites to make the Super Bowl, along with the Rams and the Packers.
Hicks joins a Bucs defense that is coming off a season in which they registered 47 sacks, a run defense that held opponents to 92.5 yards per game, and a defense that gave up just 20.8 points per game.
Hicks will help the Bucs defense become elite once again and hopefully help the Bucs end the season as Super Bowl champions.