Next Free Agent Uses Social Media to Flirt with Vikings

Sep 15, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Chicago Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (96) before the game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings face the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, a crucial game for both organizations. With a combined record of 0-4, one team must turn around a 0-3 season start, an almost impossible task. It will be the first game of the two new acquisitions, Cam Akers and Dalton Risner, although the extent of their roles is unknown at this point.

Next Free Agent Uses Social Media to Flirt with Vikings

While the Akers trade news came out of nowhere, Risner made it publically known that he wanted to play for the Vikings and used social media to express his interest, communicating with various Vikings fans throughout the first two weeks of the season.

Next Free Agent Uses Social Media To Flirt With Vikings
Dec 30, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) is sacked by Chicago Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (96) during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Another free agent just realized that he could use that tool when fans of the purple team voiced their interest in defensive tackle Akiem Hicks following the disastrous defensive effort against the Philadelphia Eagles, especially the run-stopping part of the defense was a problem.

Hicks, now 33 years old, was one of the better interior defenders in the NFL for years. The Vikings are still afraid of him suiting up for the Chicago Bears. Facing him twice a year with mainly suspect blocking units was scary.

In 2023, however, Hicks is a free agent for a reason. He left the Bears 18 months ago and joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, playing 399 snaps and recording 22 tackles and 1 sack. Hicks was limited to 11 games because he suffered a torn plantar fascia early in the season, costing him more than a month of the season. Because of injuries, Hicks played in only 40 games over the last four seasons.

The 2012 third-rounder started his career in the NFC South playing for the New Orleans Saints, was traded to the New England Patriots in 2015, and signed a deal in free agency with the Bears in 2016.

Crave One More
Sep 15, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Chicago Bears defensive tackle Nick Williams (97) celebrates his race with defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (96) in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

Vikings fans expressed interest in Risner and Akers before the team made the moves, so they chose to try again. Hicks responded on X: “That Viking love has been nice all day, I appreciate the interest. Always had fun strappin’ it on against you. As a competitor, you hope to receive the respect of your opponent. The respect of the fan base is a very nice bonus #skol.”

Hicks ranks tied-12th in sacks against the Vikings, despite only playing in ten games. He logged 8.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss (ranking him fourth) in those contests.

There were rumors in the offseason that the Buccaneers were interested in re-signing Hicks, but nothing happened on that front. He signed a one-year $8 million deal with them last season. The defender is no longer the scary force offenses had to account for on every play, but he is still a decent player and could help the Vikings.

Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Harrison Phillips (97) reacts after making a tackle against the Indianapolis Colts during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota employs Harrison Phillips on the important nose tackle spot. Next to him, defensive coordinator Brian Flores can pick between free agent signing Dean Lowry, veteran Jonathan Bullard, and nose tackle Khyiris Tonga. Rookie Jaquelin Roy hasn’t been active through two games.

While the Vikings have enough players, they could use another playmaker, someone who can get the quarterback or the running back while the other guys do what they do best — eating up blockers.

Unless the defensive line plays a fabulous game on Sunday, the Vikings should check with Hicks and ask for his price. A defense can never have too many playmakers, and if he’s cheap enough at age 33, he could be another solid body in the room.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt