New England Patriots Rumors: 2 recently released LB’s who could help out

Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
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New England Patriots
Outside linebacker Jordan Hicks #58 of the Arizona Cardinals (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots linebacker free agent target No. 2: Jordan Hicks

One of the more under-the-radar cap casualties who was cut earlier today was Jordan Hicks from the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals have an influx of young talent at the linebacker spot, and while Hicks had one of the better seasons of his career last year, that meant it was time for the team move on from him. With the Patriots looking likely to have significant turnover in their linebacker corps, Hicks could emerge as a potential target for them once free agency opens.

During his three season tenure with the Cardinals, Hicks made a name for himself as a tackling machine. He had over 100 tackles each season, and he was generally at the middle of everything on defense for Arizona. Hicks is a fanstastic run defender who always has a nose for the ball, and he showed some pass rushing capabilities last season too, picking up a career high four sacks.

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The main issue with Hicks has always been his coverage skills. Quarterbacks get pretty much whatever they want when Hicks is in coverage, and it’s preventing him from becoming a true three-down linebacker. Hicks is such a solid run defender that it’s tough to take him off the field, but the Cardinals got burned on third downs with Hicks in coverage last season.

Hicks struggles in coverage could prevent the Patriots from making a run at him, but he could also end up being the direct replacement for Ja’Whaun Bentley this offseason. Bentley is hitting the market at the perfect time coming off a career year, while Hicks is fresh off getting released. They could conceivably pick up Hicks for less than what Bentley will earn, while also getting an upgrade at the heart of the defense.

Hicks is still only 30 years old, but he will probably be looking for a one to two year deal worth around $5 million per year right now. Getting cut will hurt his market, but he’s still an extremely productive player when he’s on the field. And who knows, maybe Bill Belichick could the perfect guy to help him figure out his coverage woes.