Falcons post-draft free agent targets: Akiem Hicks

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The Falcons’ offseason isn’t over yet, but we’re nearing the end as the rookies report to camp this week. Atlanta came away from the draft with eight prospects that filled some of the roster’s biggest needs. The team got a pass catcher, multiple pass rushers, a three-down running back, and the future at quarterback. Some will contribute immediately, while others will have to work their way up from special teams.

Even though the foundation of the roster is still coming together, the Falcons still boast some of the worst personnel in the league. Atlanta recently extended Grady Jarrett, which created significant cap space, so the front office has extra room to acquire more pieces. This continues a series where I’ll highlight a handful of available free agents that could dramatically improve the team. Below are the prior articles.

Akiem Hicks

Ever since the Falcons hired Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith, Atlanta has attracted former Bears free agents. Then, Fontenot hired Ryan Pace this offseason, which only accelerated the Falcons’ signing friends from Chicago. Most recently, Atlanta brought in Nick Kwiatkoski for a visit, and our next spotlight is on another former Bear.

Akiem Hicks has been one of the league’s best defensive ends since entering the league. He’s started 77 games over six seasons with the Bears, where he totaled 51 tackles for loss and 31 sacks. Standing 6’4” and weighing 335 pounds, Hicks fits exactly what Dean Pees wants to accomplish on defense. A veteran on the line would do wonders for the defense, which, other than Grady Jarret, is rife with inexperienced players.

Hicks would immediately contribute and would only have to compete with Ta’Quon Graham and Marlon Davidson for reps. He’s a scheme fit, a veteran player, and would fill a position of need. It seems like a no-brainer, right?

Well, there are things holding teams back from signing Hicks, namely his age and durability. He’s missed 20 games over the last three seasons and hasn’t played a full season since 2018. His production has also slumped in recent years.

Even though the Falcons aren’t an Akiem Hicks-type player away from being winners, he would still do wonders for the team as a whole. A one-year deal would be great, but Hicks may be looking for something more long-term.

Photographer: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire
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