NFL Rumors: Akiem Hicks Leaving New England Patriots For Chicago Bears

NFL rumors have been swirling around Akiem Hicks. For much of the season, people knew that he was set to become a free agent. Since he has improved tremendously, the belief was that he was going to be leaving the New England Patriots. After all, Hicks only played a season for Bill Belichick, so there wasn’t a lot of loyalty towards the team. According to Fox Sports, Akiem will be jumping from the AFC to the NFC and signing with the Chicago Bears on a two year deal.

Akiem Hicks does have some loyalty towards Ryan Pace. The Chicago Bears general manager worked in the front office for the New Orleans Saints when they selected Hicks in third round of the NFL Draft in 2012. That bond made it easier for the Bears to pry the California native away from the New England Patriots. There’s a good amount of free agent signings in the National Football League that are influenced by the relationship between players, coaches and executives.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick

The Chicago Bears must have had a great sales pitch to Akiem Hicks. He visited with the team on Friday and was expected to fly up to visit with the Detroit Lions. That visit never happened, as Hicks agreed to terms with the Bears right away. Akiem publicly stated that his relationship with Ryan Pace was a big reason why he signed. The other reasons are believed to have been what he heard from Bears head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

Akiem Hicks granted a visit with the Detroit Lions out of loyalty. Their new general manager, Bob Quinn, was an executive with the New England Patriots last season. He developed a relationship with Hicks. Quinn got to see Akiem on a daily basis and heard what Bill Belichick and the Patriots coaching staff felt about the 6’5″, 325 pound defensive end. Unfortunately for the Lions, the relationship between Quinn and Hicks wasn’t strong enough for him to bypass the Chicago Bears offer.

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace

The upcoming NFL Draft is said to be filled with quality defensive linemen. While some may wonder why the Chicago Bears didn’t wait until then instead of signing Akiem Nicks, Ryan Pace simply did not want the team to go into the season without a solid starter at defensive end. The Bears could still use a couple of draft choices on defensive linemen to add depth, but they don’t have to make a bad decision because of the presence of Hicks.

Traditional formations aren’t always used by the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick loves to be creative and confuse opposing NFL teams. Akiem Hicks, however, mostly played on the interior of the sometimes unorthodox defensive line. With the Chicago Bears, Hicks will play a more traditional defensive end in a 3-4 front. Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio generally prefers his defensive end to occupy the offensive linemen so that the linebackers are free to make big plays.

Chicago Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan

When Vic Fangio was the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator, he had the luxury of building his scheme around Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman. Know how much life was made easier by having two outstanding inside linebackers, Fangio campaigned for Ryan Pace to give him some upgrades. The Chicago Bears signed Danny Trevathan from the Denver Broncos and Jerrell Freeman from the Indianapolis Colts, and it will be up to Akiem Hicks to keep offensive linemen from getting to those two guys.

Akiem Hicks was drafted by the New Orleans Saints and traded for by the New England Patriots, so he never got a chance to choose where in the NFL he wanted to play. He got that chance this week, and Hicks has chosen the Chicago Bears.

[Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images]