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Broncos Should Sign Former Bears Pro Bowl DL Akiem Hicks, Analyst Says

Hicks spent the last six seasons in Chicago.

Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett is a firm believer that "you can never have enough people to rush a passer." They're hardly empty words.

In four months as Denver's head man, Hackett has overseen the splash signings of outside linebacker Randy Gregory and defensive lineman DJ Jones and draft selections of second-round OLB Nik Bonitto and fourth-round DL Eyioma Uwazurike — all players who specialize in harassing the quarterback.

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What once was a position of weakness has become a position of strength. The Broncos now have more pass-rushers than they know what to do with, to say nothing of OLB Bradley Chubb and defensive end Dre'Mont Jones. It's a first-world football problem of the highest order.

A problem only exacerbated by Bleacher Report's Alex Ballentine, who suggested the Broncos — their Super Bowl window wide open — pick up veteran free agent DL Akiem Hicks. Because why not?

"After losing Shelby Harris in the [Russell] Wilson trade, they acquired defensive tackle D.J. Jones. That's a start, but the interior of the line could still use some pop," Ballentine wrote. "Jones is a good run defender but only had two sacks and has never topped three in a season. Akiem Hicks had 3.5 and was limited to nine games last year. ... Even at 32 years old, Hicks can wreak havoc when healthy."

Hicks (6-4, 335) is entering his age-33 campaign after spending the last six seasons with the Chicago Bears, where he totaled 175 solo tackles, 88 QB hits, and 31.0 sacks. He was a Pro Bowler in 2018 and was named among the Top 100 players in franchise history.

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Recently, however, Father Time has caught up to Hicks, who missed 11 games in 2019 and eight games last season, perhaps explaining his prolonged languishment on the market.

Spotrac.com projected Hicks' price tag at $5.5 million annually, about half of what the California native earned in 2021. The Broncos have approximately $11.25 million in available salary-cap space.

And, apparently, always room for one more.

"In the loaded AFC West, the Broncos could use all the pass-rush help they can get, and Hicks has the flexibility to provide it from multiple alignments on the inside," Ballentine wrote.


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