Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Bears All-Pro pleads for team to bring back familiar face

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Eddie Jackson is calling on the Chicago Bears to bring back a longtime fan favorite.

The all-pro security went to twitter on April 22 to ask his current team to re-sign defenseman Akiem Hicks, who is still a free agent. Hicks, 32, who has spent the last six seasons at Chicago, has been a game wrecker for the team, but he’s struggled to stay healthy in recent seasons.

The new Bears regime, led by general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus, hasn’t brought back many free agents associated with the previous staff, so Hick’s return to the Windy City remains a question mark.

That doesn’t deter Jackson, who also tagged Hicks in his post. The veteran D lineman replied later.

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Hicks had played at least 781 snaps in each of his first three seasons with the Bears before injuries kept him off the field for significant portions of the 2019 and 2021 seasons.

If he’s healthy, he’s still a disruptive force at his age.

In nine games and 303 snaps last season, he accumulated 5.0 sacks, 15 total pressures, five quarterback hits and five hurries. He also received a 71.9 pass rush grade from PFF.

Money could be a major hurdle when it comes to bringing the veteran defender back. Spotrac has put Hicks’ market value at $5.5 million per year, and with a salary cap currently over $13 million, it doesn’t look like Chicago can — or will — pay him in that space.

That doesn’t mean Hicks didn’t appreciate his former teammate’s love:

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Jackson, who was an All-Pro in 2018, hasn’t had an interception in his last 30 games. Unlike Hicks, Jackson has remained healthy over the past few seasons, but the production just hasn’t been there. After 15 passes defended and six picks in 2018, Jackson has accumulated just 12 passes defended and two interceptions in the three seasons since.

He’ll need to ramp up his production a lot if he’s going to fit into Eberflus’ new defenses.

“We had a good conversation about it, this is a fresh start for him, and just going out and working and showing us what you can do,” Eberflus said of the Chicago Sun-Times’ Jason Lieser in March.

“Sure you have to make basic plays but we need to be able to see in that position for example if you can cover tight ends? Can you cover your back? Do you play half games, quarter games efficiently, or do you play in the middle of the field? He’s done all of those things, but let’s see his skills now. What skills does he have right now? And we’re looking forward to it,” added Eberflus.

For his part, Jackson admits his 2021 campaign wasn’t the best.

“This is probably one of my worst seasons,” Jackson told the media on April 21. “I gave up too many deep balls. I’m just trying to fix that.”

“I know what I’m capable of,” added the bears’ security man. “That’s what I want to come back to, making these games. The biggest thing for me is just going out there, flying around and guiding my guys. I will do whatever is necessary. I’m ready to shop myself. Whatever it takes, whatever they ask of me, I’m ready to do it.”

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“Sure you have to make basic plays but we need to be able to see in that position for example if you can cover tight ends? Can you cover your back? Do you play half games, quarter games efficiently, or do you play in the middle of the field? He’s done all of those things, but let’s see his skills now. What skills does he have right now? And we’re looking forward to it,” added Eberflus.



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