Grading Arizona Cardinals signing of two veteran linebackers
As of Tuesday, March 12th, the Arizona Cardinals are expected to steal Jordan Hicks away from fellow bird team Philadelphia Eagles. Per NFL Networks Ian Rapoport, the deal will be worth $36 million over the course of four years, with $20 million guaranteed.
Hicks projects as an upgrade over recently released linebacker Josh Bynes, who saw the majority of the snaps at inside linebacker for the Cardinals in 2018. But, there is a catch; Hicks has struggled to be on the field over a consistent period of time, as he has missed 21 out of 64 eligible games during his four-year career due to a torn Achilles, torn pectoral, and a calf injury.
However, when Hicks is able to get on the field, there are few linebackers that are better than the 26-year-old. Over his four year career, Hicks has accumulated 254 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, 19 pass deflections, seven interceptions, and a forced fumble.
According to Pro Football Focus metrics, Hicks has been a top ten linebacker in two out of the past three seasons as he was ranked as the third-best inside linebacker in 2016 (88.3 grade), and tenth-best linebacker in 2018 (80.7 grade). Most importantly, Hicks is one of the best coverage linebackers in the NFL as he has an outstanding 92.0 grade since 2015 — second best in the NFL over that span.
Jordan Hicks will be a significant boost to the Cardinals front-seven that is shaping up to be a top unit in the NFC. He should make the middle of the field harder to pass on, and will certainly pay dividends as a run defender. If (that’s a big if) Hicks can stay healthy, the deal that averages $9 million a year will be a steal for the Redbirds. If not, the team could be in a bit of trouble.
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