Akiem Hicks said yes to the Bears — and no to the most powerful figure in the game.
Bill Belichick, the Patriots’ de facto GM, made Hicks a contract offer Sunday night. On the phone, the future Hall of Fame head coach told Hicks how he intrigued he was by his upside, sources said, to try to lure him back.
“I would say that there was a great effort in order for us to work something out,” said Hicks, who interviewed at Halas Hall on Friday and never left Chicago. “But I found Chicago would be a better fit for me, as far as my future’s concerned.”
That means better money, sure — the Bears signed him for two years, $10 million, with $5.5 million guaranteed — but also a chance to show what he can do.
Only 26, Hicks fits a Bears organization that has, in the last five days, added players GM Ryan Pace believes are on the upswing. Inside linebacker Danny Trevathan turns 26 next week, while tackle Bobby Massie won’t turn 27 until training camp.
“Opportunity was the biggest thing that I wanted to have in the organization I chose to be with,” Hicks said. “I wanted to have the opportunity to play and play a lot, and be a part of a team that has a legitimate chance to win.”
Hicks started 33 of his final 34 games with the Saints — Pace was in the front office that drafted him four years ago — before being traded in September. He described his departure as abrupt and unexpected after playing only in nickel packages in his final game in New Orleans.
He took more than half the Patriots’ defensive snaps only twice. Now, the 6-5, 324-pounder will start in Vic Fangio’s scheme.
“If anything, I’m pretty excited to see how I will fare in his defense,” he said. “He’s had a great track record of making successful defensive linemen and successful defenses as a whole.”
Trevathan and former Colts player Jerrell Freeman give Fangio perhaps the best inside linebacker tandem of any 3-4 team.
“If you’ve got two great linebackers behind you,” Hicks said, “you should have a pretty good day on the defensive line.”
He trusts his old friend Pace to add more defensive pieces, too.
“They have been — and are still currently — making great decisions in order to bring players and the coaching staff and everybody to this organization to build something great here in Chicago,” Hicks said. “I’m a believer.
“I’ve seen some of the moves that they’ve made and I’ve seen the way that they’ve gone about business. And I’m excited to be a part of that, and was excited from afar.“
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