Former Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Jordan Hicks wasn’t all that surprised when he was released by the team earlier this month.
Things imploded pretty surprisingly for the Cards following an inspired start to last season. There was actually talk of Super Bowl hopes for the team on the back of their 7-0 run to start the campaign but they fell short at the soonest opportunity when the business end kicked off.
Next season isn’t expected to start as brightly and, where Super Bowl prospects are concerned, the Cardinals aren’t thought to have much of a shot. They’re currently 25/1 to win it all next term and Arkansas sportsbooks promo codes should make such bets a bit more attractive for fans looking to punt on NFL futures.
As for Hicks, he must have known there wasn’t much of a future to be had with Arizona. Though the team held projected replacement, Zaven Collins, back and allowed Hicks to retain his role as a starter, it was no secret that the team was keen on having the second-year pro step up next season.
Team GM Steve Keim reiterated plans to go younger in the position during the NFL Combine, pointing out Collins, as well as another backer in Isaiah Simmons more involved in coordinator Vance Joseph’s defense, which is why it didn’t come as a surprise for Hicks and his family when he was waived.
“My situation back in Arizona, I kind of knew something was gonna shake,” Hicks, now a Minnesota Viking, told the press during his introductory press conference last week. “So, my family was ready for it. I’ve got three young kids, all under the age of four, God bless my wife. There’s a lot of moving parts that happen in this job and it’s part of it. I’ve been through it before, I’ve seen it before. This is my second free agency, so you prepare.
“It’s been a whirlwind. It all happened really quickly for me, a lot different than my first round through free agency … I’m excited to be here. My family’s excited to be here. Can’t wait to get started.”
The Cardinals appear all set with Collins as the top man in defense, yet it’s not going to be easy to replace Hicks. The veteran started 49 games after moving to Arizona in 2019 and brought a sense of calm and consistency to the defense. He led or was tied for the lead among Cardinals defenders in tackles in two out of his three seasons, only trailing Jalen Thompson in 2021 with 116 to the latter’s 121.
Hicks also revealed his children weren’t very fond of the Cardinals but they aren’t that much into football anyway. Arizona, specifically, was too loud for them.
“Any time you would ask them if they liked the Cardinals they always said no. … Hopefully they’ll be old enough to go to a game and enjoy it, he said. “I know our fans are loud, so we’ll see.”
The Vikings signed Hicks last week. While the terms were not disclosed, sources claim it’s a two-year contract worth $12 million.
The Cardinals’ move to waive the 29-year-old saves them $6.5 million on their salary cap.
The player has started 52 consecutive games, which marks the third-longest active streak among linebackers in the NFL. He played very well last season, as noted above, but Arizona has opted to go with Collins moving forward.
Meanwhile, longtime Cardinals trainer John Omohundro is set to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Omohundro has had quite a career as a trainer but it might have turned out very differently for him as he expressed doubts the job was the right one for him just after being hired in 1967.
The former trainer barely had time to unpack before he was headed to training camp with the Cardinals. Back then, there were 140 players on the team, with just two trainers to tend to them during two-a-day practices.
Omohundro found himself overwhelmed pretty quickly, having also just completed basic Army training.
“I was just a worn-out puppy,” he said. Fortunately, he was convinced to tough it out and would be promoted to head trainer in 1972. He spent 42 seasons with the team, leaving in 2008, and is now set to be one of the initial class of athletic trainers in the HOF.
The group named are part of the Award of Excellence. They will be invited to the Hall of Fame ceremonies in August and have their names enshrined on a display inside the museum.
“It’s the Mount Everest of pro football athletic trainers to become recognized to be important enough to be included in such a hallowed place,” the 78-year-old said. “It’s something I never gave any thought to, because they didn’t have (that spot) for athletic trainers.
“I was amazed, stunned, shocked, surprised. I had no idea they were even considering anything like that. To be one of the five inductees into a place like that … there is no other place like that.”