The Arizona Cardinals have scooped up some much-needed help on the defensive side of the ball, inking former Philadelphia Eagles inside linebacker to a hefty four-year contract.
Last season, the Arizona Cardinals went 3-13 and finished 26th in the league in points per game allowed, so they clearly needed to make major upgrades on the defensive side of the ball. While most of the offseason storylines will focus on the Cardinals’ rumored interest in Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray, the Cardinals must build a squad that properly supports whoever is starting under center next season.
Part of that responsibility involves making upgrades on defense, and signing Jordan Hicks, who helped the Philadelphia Eagles win the Super Bowl two seasons ago, certainly qualifies as a notable upgrade to an inconsistent linebacker corps.
Per the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Hicks has signed a four-year deal worth $36 million, and he’ll earn $20 million in guaranteed money from the Cardinals. Of the $20 million in guarantees, $12 million will come in the form of a signing bonus.
Though spending $20 million in guaranteed money on a four-year contract is a risk, the Arizona Cardinals needed to make an upgrade at the position this offseason. Jordan Hicks has missed several games here and there over the past couple of years, but, when healthy, he’s been a difference-maker on a strong Philadelphia Eagles defense. Arizona needs some of that badly, and in Hicks and Haason Reddick, the Eagles could have one of the best playmaking inside linebacker tandems in the NFL. Combine that with Chandler Jones and veteran Terrell Suggs off the edge, and Arizona could be in business, especially if the new coaching staff can get the most out of the talented Reddick. Hicks can make an impact in all phases of the game (pass-rush, run defense, pass coverage), and this is the price a team like the Cardinals will have to pay for a proven commodity at the position. Sure, Hicks’ injury history is mildly concerning, but he’s just 26 and can give this Arizona team plenty of value over the course of his four-year deal. Chalk this one up as a win for the NFC West’s last-placed team.
The Cardinals’ run defense was particularly embarrassing last season, allowing a whopping 4.9 yards per carry, so if Hicks can give this team some consistency and tenacity against ground games like San Francisco’s, Los Angeles’ and Seattle’s, the $9 million per year will be well-spent from their perspective. Plus, Hicks had three sacks last season and once had five interceptions in a campaign as a linebacker — the last time he played a full 16 games, in 2016 — so there’s tantalizing upside here.