Philadelphia Eagles: Passing on Jordan Hicks is just smart economics

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

While Jordan Hicks was a vital cog in Jim Schwartz’s defense over the last three years, the Philadelphia Eagles were wise to let the oft-injured linebacker walk in free agency.

I’m a Jordan Hicks fan.

Though he was initially drafted by Chip Kelly mere months before his eventual exile from the City of Brotherly Love, Hicks perfectly personified the middle linebacker position in Jim Schwartz‘s 4-3 scheme.

Hicks is the kind of rangey, athletic three-down linebacker with Pro Bowl upside that teams dream of securing in the third round, and often lock up into longterm deals before they are even able to hit the open market.

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That, however, is not what happened here.

According to, Hicks has agreed in principle to join the Arizona Cardinals on a four-year, $36 million deal, in the hopes that he will headline new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph‘s revamped front seven.

And frankly, Howie Roseman was smart to let him go.

Don’t get me wrong, Hicks’ ability to cover sideline-to-sideline and remain on the field in both sub packages and base defense is very valuable, potentially worth a whole lot more than $9 million a year, but his expansive injury history simply makes that a risky proposition.

In Hicks’ four professional seasons he’s only played a full 16 games once, in (fittingly) 2016. He missed eight games in 2015, nine games in 2017, and four in 2018, with two separate stints on IR.

Hicks’ injury issues date all the way back to his time with the Texas Longhorns, where he missed the entirety of his true junior season due to a hip injury, and all but four games from his redshirt junior season due to a ruptured Achilles tendon.

While the Eagles were certainly better with Hicks on the field than off, as they still won a Super Bowl with Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks taking the bulk of their snaps in the middle, all but highlighting his expendability.

Had the Eagles opted to extend Hicks, even on the exact same contract, they would once again have to play with bated breath, hoping their defensive signal caller can remain healthy for a full season.

For a team flirting dangerously close to the salary cap ceiling, that’s a gamble that’s just too rich for the Eagles’ blood.

Now, the team will (probably) rock with Bradam at middle linebacker fulltime, a position he’s filled fairly well whenever Hicks suffered an injury. Furthermore, Hicks’ exit also opens the door for an expanded role for Kamu Grugier-Hill, the Eagles’ special teams captain who played very well in limited play.

The team’s decision to re-up Paul Worrilow now looks prophetic.

With plenty of quality linebackers still on the market, like ex-Carolina Panthers‘ legend Thomas Davis (more on him here), and the NFL Draft still a month away, it will be incredibly telling to see how Howie Roseman, Joe Douglas, and the Eagles front office decide to address the linebacker position moving forward.

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So goodbye Jordan, while it would have been nice for you to stick around a little longer, it’s nice to see you got paid, and have a chance to continue your career on in a much more temperate climate. Hopefully, you can put that injury bug behind you and finally become a genuine Pro Bowler.