ARIZONA CARDINALS

Report: Cardinals to let Jordan Hicks find trade after Zaven Collins pick

May 12, 2021, 7:02 AM
Jordan Hicks (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)...
Jordan Hicks (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Arizona Cardinals starting middle linebacker Jordan Hicks will be allowed to search for a new home via trade after the team in April drafted Zaven Collins to play the same role, reported NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Wednesday.

Rapoport adds that the team wants to “do right by” Hicks, who was the quarterback of base packages in Arizona’s defense.

The sides have not ruled out Hicks remaining with the team as a veteran voice and depth option if there is no interest in a trade market for another team to take on his recently reduced contract, according to Rapoport.

The news is surprising considering the Cardinals have yet to put Collins, the 16th overall pick out of Tulsa, on the field to assure themselves he can learn the defense. Rookie minicamp does not start until Friday.

However, general manager Steve Keim spoke glowingly of Collins’ ability to lead a defense as a MIKE linebacker on the first day of the draft.

“When you watched Zaven, not only is he impressive athletically, but you watch him before the snap and his presnap stuff with directing traffic and communicating was excellent,” Keim said. “We took all those things into account when we made this pick.”

While committing to Collins playing immediately may be a surprise, it had already become clear the clock was ticking on Hicks’ time with Arizona.

“We’ll work through it as we go,” Kingsbury said April 29, when asked specifically about Hicks’ future. “Obviously, you don’t take (Collins) with the 16th pick unless you expect him to play. And he isn’t a guy who’s moving positions or had his hand down. He played inside linebacker.”

During the Cardinals’ NFL Draft press conferences after selecting Collins, Keim remained adamant that the rookie was picked to play middle linebacker (the MIKE position). Some draft analysts saw him more as an edge-rushing outside linebacker.

The Cardinals loved Collins’ size and movement skills in coverage that will pair him with 2020 first-round pick Isaiah Simmons at the two starting inside linebacker spots.

In eight games this past year at Tulsa, the 6-foot-5, 260-pound Collins recorded 54 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles with four interceptions.

Meanwhile, Hicks posted 118 tackles with four passes defensed in 2020, his second year with Arizona.

In 2019, the middle linebacker was third in the NFL with 149 total tackles.

The 6-foot-1, 236-pound linebacker joined the Cardinals from the Philadelphia Eagles and signed a four-year, $34 million contract before that 2019 season. This year, he had already committed to a pay cut, per Rapoport.

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