Jordan Hicks has been a starter virtually since his rookie year.
Entering the 2021 season, the Cardinals linebacker faces the uncomfortable reality that he will no longer be holding down that No. 1 spot.
Hicks revealed on Saturday that receiving this news from general manager Steve Keim shortly after the NFL Draft served as the impetus behind his desire to seek a trade back in May. It was a conversation Hicks said he understood but felt disappointed at the end of.
“I respected the fact that he told me straight up,” he told reporters, per ESPN. “I respected the fact that he told me he was going to work with me to try to honor a trade. And, so, there’s a part of you that respects that, but then there’s a part that just wishes you had had an opportunity to compete, which is all I asked for.”
Three months after news of his request became public, Hicks, who skipped OTAs and mandatory minicamp, remains a member of the organization.
His decision to report to training camp marked the start of the 29-year-old’s transition into more of a mentor role. Second-year LB Isaiah Simmons and 2021 first-rounder Zaven Collins — the man who usurped the veteran’s starting spot – are slated to take over, leaving Hicks as the odd man out.
Even with the frustration of his situation still lingering, Hicks has not allowed it to impact his effort. He plans to support the young tandem and the rest of his teammates in any way he can for the foreseeable future.
“I don’t try to waver who I am,” he said. “Whether I’m out there starting or whether I’m not, I’m going to help whoever needs help, because I feel like I’ve got a lot of knowledge to share.”
So far, Hicks has liked what’s been seeing from Collins, praising him for “his ability to pick up the defense and be out there commanding it.” His main role for the time being will be to continue to help both the rookie and Simmons get ready for Week 1. But, as we all know, plans can shift at any moment.
Hicks is confident he’s still capable of being more than a rotational piece if the chance presents itself.
“I think at this point, 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,” he said. “And, so, whether it’s here, whether it’s somewhere else, if given the opportunity to compete, I think I can have a starting job.”
Barring a change of direction in Arizona, Hicks’ wish won’t be granted until a suitor that believes the same emerges.