Akiem Hicks is entering a contract year and has yet to sign an extension, but the Bears’ defensive end reiterated on Thursday that he’d like to remain a part of this organization beyond 2017.
After left tackle Charles Leno signed a four-year extension earlier this week, the natural follow-up question is: Will Hicks be next?
“It’s a beautiful thing to be looked at as somebody that you want to be a part of your team for a long time,” Hicks said. “I appreciate the interest in that category and I would love to be a Bear for a long time.”
Hicks signed with Drew Rosenhaus in July, and Rosenhaus was seen around Olivet Nazarene University early in training camp, but no extension materialized in Bourbonnais. Hicks will be 28 in November, and coming off his best NFL season — he had a career high seven sacks and started all 16 games last year — he’ll command a contract greater than the two-year, $10 million one he signed in 2016.
Hicks still sees his arrow pointing up, and said he has a “goal board” in his room that includes a box for making the Pro Bowl. Perhaps that means Hicks could be confident not signing a contract and betting on himself to cash in as a free agent next spring.
But Hicks has found a home at defensive end for the Bears after being shuttled around different positions on the lines of the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots. Consistency, from that standpoint, could be a good thing for him.
Either way, Hicks is lined up to be a key part of a defense — especially a front seven — that could exceed expectations in 2017. And, too, Hicks is saying the right things about wanting to stay here going forward.
“I will say this: I’m still living my dream,” Hicks said. “I’m still playing every day. I still get to be a Bear. I’m under contract for another year. I’m taking it step-by-step. I’d love to be a Bear for a long time. Let’s leave it at that.”