The Patriots have shown interest in bringing defensive tackle Akiem Hicks back next season, Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal reports. Although it wouldn’t be surprising to see Hicks test the free-agent market, the team’s early interest is a sign that they liked what they saw last season.
Hicks was acquired last year in a trade with the New Orleans Saints for tight end Michael Hoomanawanui. A former third-round pick, he shined down the stretch for the Patriots after Dominique Easley was placed on the injured reserve. Hicks finished the season with three sacks, all of them in the final four games of the season.
It was quite a turnaround for a player who New Orleans was willing to let go for a backup tight end. Hicks played in 13 games for the Patriots. Prior to 2015, he was a full-time starter for two seasons with the Saints.
Hicks is expected to command the most money of all the Patriots’ unrestricted free agents. The 26-year-old was recently listed by Sports Illustrated’s MMQB website as one of the top 10 players who could surprise in NFL free agency. Hicks was listed at No. 4.