Buffalo Bills: Early look at 3 free agents Bills could target in 2022

Sep 13, 2020; Orchard Park, New York, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (82) reacts to his touchdown catch and run against the Buffalo Bills during the third quarter at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 13, 2020; Orchard Park, New York, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (82) reacts to his touchdown catch and run against the Buffalo Bills during the third quarter at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports /
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Buffalo Bills
Nov 8, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) is tackled by Chicago Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks (96) during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

Akiem Hicks

The defensive tackle is one that could be a major need for the Buffalo Bills next offseason and could look very different than it does currently. The team is expected to have Star Lotulelei back this season and he has two years remaining after this season, however, the Bills could release him after the season and save over $4 million but incur a penalty of $5 million in dead cap.

In addition to Lotulelei, the Bills also could see Harrison Phillips and Vernon Butler walk after this season as both players are entering the final year of their deals.

This is why a player like Akiem Hicks could be a good option for the interior of the defensive line. He has been with the Chicago Bears since 2016 and really emerged as one of the top defensive tackles in the league, including a Pro Bowl selection in 2018.

Even at 31 years old, he could still command a sizeable contract as a free agent and this could be enough to push the Buffalo Bills out. However, if Hicks is looking for an opportunity to join a team that seemingly is poised to make deep playoff runs on a regular basis, he could be a good addition.