Jordan Hicks: ‘I was told I couldn’t compete’ for starting MIKE backer job

Jul 31, 2021, 4:39 PM | Updated: 6:55 pm

Arizona Cardinals middle linebacker Jordan Hicks takes a drink between drills during NFL football t...

Arizona Cardinals middle linebacker Jordan Hicks takes a drink between drills during NFL football training camp practice, Thursday, July 29, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

GLENDALE — The Arizona Cardinals made noise this offseason when head coach Kliff Kingsbury said he expected rookie linebacker Zaven Collins to slide into the starting MIKE backer spot despite veteran Jordan Hicks heading the position the previous two seasons.

It was reported that the two sides had agreed to search for a new home for Hicks, with the potential option of remaining on the team as a veteran voice.

It’s safe to say there was a time when Hicks did not expect to be in a Cardinals uniform this year.

In his first time speaking with reporters since the trade report came out, Hicks divulged just how difficult the beginning of the offseason was for him during the Cardinals’ Back Together practice at State Farm Stadium on Saturday.

“It was tough, obviously. I got a call [from general manager Steve Keim] a few days after the draft saying I couldn’t compete for the job,” Hicks said.

“When I heard that, that was the whole reason behind all the drama. There’s nothing against Zaven, the kid is awesome. He’s done nothing but great things out there. He’s gonna have a bright future in the NFL. But when everything happened it was tough to handle so that was kind of the beginning of the offseason.”

While Collins figures to be a big part of the Cardinals future plans, the notion that Hicks couldn’t even compete for the starting role raises a few eyebrows.

Starting every game the past two seasons in Arizona, Hicks has recorded at least 100 tackles each year, making a career high 150 in 2019. He added four interceptions and seven QB hits over that timespan.

“I think I’ve proven that I’m a starter in this league by the resume that I have, by the past two years of being here and showing my leadership, showing my play on the field. Whether it’s here, whether it’s somewhere else, given the opportunity to compete, I think I can have a starting job.”

But with Hicks entering his seventh season and the Cardinals burning a first-round pick on Collins, the writing was on the wall, though many probably didn’t expect it to happen seemingly overnight.

Unlike Patrick Peterson’s recent rant on Keim’s offseason dealings, however, Hicks had much more solace and grace when speaking on the nature of the beast that is the NFL.

“Every player understands the business side of this game that we play in, the NFL, and so there’s a part of you that is pissed off because all you want to do is have an opportunity to compete,” Hicks said. “But then at the same time, you understand it.

“You understand that Steve is doing his job and is doing what he has to do to further the team, per se, in his opinion. I respected the fact that he told me straight up. I respected the fact that he told me he was gonna work with me to try to honor a trade and so there’s a part of you that respects and then a part of you that wishes you just had an opportunity to compete.”

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