GLENDALE, Arizona – A few days after the Arizona Cardinals linebacker Zaven Collins competed 16th overall on April 29 for a starting job this season, Hicks said on Saturday.
The 29-year-old Hicks has played in all 32 games since signing with the Cardinals in 2019 and has the sixth most tackles and snaps in the last two seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information Research.
He said he was “pissed” but also understood the business behind the team’s decision to name Collins as a starter of Day 1 at Inside Linebacker alongside Isaiah Simmons, last season’s first-round pick.
According to Hicks, that discussion with Keim led Hicks to request a trade that off-season. A deal has yet to be struck, but he’s piqued interest, Hicks said.
“When it all happened, it was hard to work with,” said Hicks.
“I respected the fact that he told me directly. I respected the fact that he told me he would work with me to try and honor a profession a part that just wishes you had the opportunity to compete and that’s all what I asked for. “
Hicks, who did not attend the Cardinals’ mandatory minicamp, said there was a point this off-season when he did not expect to become a Cardinal in 2021 would not be traded. Hicks’ contract was restructured in late March to fully guarantee his $ 3 million salary that season. It also has a squad bonus worth up to $ 1 million for being active on all 16 games. He could make another $ 2 million in bonuses, in part through playtime.
Although Hicks said he was “excited to be here,” he also said he would welcome an opportunity to start anywhere.
“I think at that point I have proven that I am a starter in this league, through my résumé, through the last two years that I’ve been here and shown my leadership, shown my game on the field.” Hicks said. “And whether here or elsewhere, if I have the opportunity to compete, I think I can have a starting job.”
Hicks said he has so far been impressed with Collins, who will be entrusted with calling the Cardinals Defense. Hicks, who has held the role for the past two seasons, described the task as “tough”.
“I’ll be very honest with you, Zaven did a great job. He’s got it, ”said Hicks. “He really impressed me with his ability to defend and command them too.
“It’s a tough job and it takes a lot of responsibility, especially when guys like Chandler Jones and Budda Baker and JJ Watt look back on you to make sure you get the right call. So it’s a lot, but if you can handle it you can handle it and that’s part of the game that I know, for me especially, I love it. That’s one thing I excel at. “
Hicks was seen at training camp working on the sidelines with both Collins and Simmons, showing them various moves, or speaking through plays. Although he is preparing his successor, Hicks has accepted his role as a mentor. Hicks looked back at how DeMeco Ryans, now the San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator, answered all of his questions and helped him when he was a rookie with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015, and he said he used this as an example of how he wanted approaching this season.
“I’m trying not to waver about who I am,” said Hicks. “Whether I’m out there or not, I’ll help anyone who needs help because I feel like I am sharing a lot of knowledge.”
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph didn’t rule out the possibility of Hicks earning game time or spelling Collins should Collins struggle. Joseph was one of the Cardinals coaches who were in contact with him during the off-season.
Joseph said there might be a package that includes Hicks and the two young linebackers. A glimpse of it could be seen during training on Saturday.
Hicks said the best players should play easy.
“This year is such a pivotal year,” said Hicks. “We have to win games and this division is not going to be easier.” So we have to focus on winning. We have to focus on execution. “
After Hicks finished an insightful press conference, at which he was not afraid to ask, he tried to open the door that connected the media room and the locker room.
It was locked.
The irony had not escaped him.