Popular Free Agent Linked to Vikings Now off the Board

Popular Free Agent Linked to Vikings Now off the Board
Aug 14, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears defensive line Akiem Hicks. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Akiem Hicks was whispered early — and often — as a free agent who could land with the Minnesota Vikings in 2022. But that won’t happen as Hicks instead signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday.

Hicks joins his fourth NFL team, previously spending time with the New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, and Chicago Bears.

In Tampa Bay, Hicks instantly joins a Super Bowl contender, a status not provided by the Bears since the 2018 season. Although, the outlook for the Buccaneers seemed a little bleak early in the offseason. Tom Brady retired, leaving the franchise in the hands of Kyle Trask or a quarterback to be named later. Soon after, though, Brady came to his senses and unretired six weeks later.

Hicks is a tyrant, specifically designed in a lab somewhere to torment the Vikings. Minnesota fans desired a Hicks-Vikings relationship in 2022, if only to cancel the terror he inflicts on the purple team. In 10 career games versus Minnesota, Hicks has tallied 8.5 sacks, a gruesome figure for a man who generally plays on the inside of the defensive line.

Sep 15, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Chicago Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports.

During the first wave of free agency, Hicks didn’t receive too many nibbles as he evidently planned to join a playoff team later in the spring. Well, the time is now. Hicks was linked to the Vikings a couple of times this offseason, mainly because of his ties to Vikings current defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. The two men were coworkers for four seasons in Chicago.

The move by Tampa Bay all but confirms the end of its relationship with Ndamukong Suh, whose tenure with the Buccaneers spanned three seasons and included a Super Bowl triumph. Suh remains a free agent at the time of the Hicks signing.

Jan 23, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Ndamukong Suh (93) forces a fumble by Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With Hicks off the board, it is unclear if the Vikings have plans to upgrade the defensive line’s interior. For now, the starting trio includes Dalvin Tomlinson (NT), Armon Watts (DT), and Harrison Phillips (LDE). It’s debatable whether that is a sufficient group for a team seeking to contend for the playoffs, as the Vikings have maintained all offseason as their mission statement.

If not, Minnesota can still explore the free-agent candidacies of the aforementioned Suh, Sheldon Richardson, Larry Ogunjobi, or Star Lotulelei.

The Vikings have about $11 million in cap space per OverTheCap.com.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).