Jordan Hicks wants to be a starter, and he isn’t getting his wish with the Arizona Cardinals.
But he’s still producing and helping the Cardinals to a 4-0 start. In doing so, he’s enhancing his future trade value.
Hicks went public before the season about his trade demand in May. Cardinals general manager Steve Keim told Hicks he would no longer start, as the team decided to move in a new direction with two younger linebackers —Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins.
Hicks told the media that he respected the fact that Keim was direct with him, and the Cardinals allowed Hicks to explore his trade options. But there were no suitors at the time. So, eventually, Hicks reported to the team.
But, when you’re a seventh-year pro, you do your job. And Hicks has done just that for Arizona, which is trying to carve out a place in the highly competitive NFC West.
Hicks ended up with eight tackles in the Cardinals’ 37-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, a game after he registered a season-high 12 tackles against Jacksonville.
After four games, Hicks has 30 tackles and one sack. More importantly for the Cardinals, they’re in the driver’s seat in the division, one game ahead of the Rams and two games ahead of Seattle and San Francisco.
Hicks went to Arizona before the 2019 season, after four seasons with Philadelphia. The Eagles made him a third-round pick in 2015 and he emerged as an instant starter.
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So moving Hicks to the bench seems curious. After all, In his first two seasons with the Cardinals, Hicks had his best seasons. He registered 150 tackles in 2019 and 118 tackles in 2020.
It’s possible Hicks’ contract has something to do with it. He’s in the third year of a four-year deal that pays him $36 million, with $20 million of it guaranteed. The contract has an out clause before the 2022 season, one that would allow Hicks and the Cardinals to part ways and only result in the Cardinals taking on $3 million in dead money. This could be the Cardinals’ way of managing the cap and planning for the future.
That future wouldn’t include Hicks, but for teams looking for a linebacker at the trade deadline, Hicks would represent great value. At age 29, he’s in his prime and he would bring veteran experience and a Super Bowl ring to whatever team wanted him.
But, for now, Hicks must play his role and wait as he continues to have an impact in Arizona.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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