TAMPA ― Needing a veteran presence while rookie Logan Hall develops, the Bucs are signing Bears Pro Bowl defensive lineman Akiem Hicks to a one-year deal worth as much as $10 million.
Hicks, 32, essentially replaces veteran Ndamukong Suh on the defensive line. Suh still is a free agent and apparently no longer in the Bucs’ plans.
The 6-foot-4, 335-pound Hicks is entering his 11th season and was a Pro Bowl selection in 2018. But injuries limited him to just nine games last season and five in 2019. However, he has 40-1/2 career sacks and could be a force in the rotation with Hall next to Vita Vea.
The Bucs traded down and used their first pick (33rd overall) in the draft on Hall, who looks the part at 6-feet-6, 283 pounds.
But without Suh, who signed a series of one-year contracts each of the past three seasons, the Bucs were lacking some experienced depth at the position.
Originally a third-round pick by the Saints in 2012, Hicks had his best season as a member of the Bears’ top-ranked defense in 2018. In addition to 7-1/2 sacks, he had 55 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles. Limited by an ankle injury last season, he had only 3-1/2 sacks and 25 tackles.
Suh earned at least $9 million in each of the past three seasons, but it is believed Hicks’ contract is incentive-laden.
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