TAMPA BAY – It looks like the clock on Ndamukong Suh’s and the Buccaneers’ future has finally struck midnight.

Many have wondered when -or if- the two parties would reconnect for a fourth consecutive season once the final second ticked off the game clock back in January. Both sides have been rather quiet regarding the topic, leaving a lot of room for interpretation.

Or, speculation, rather.

Well, said wonderment is all but diminished after Tuesday’s news. Per ESPN‘s Adam Schefter, the Buccaneers and former Pro Bowl defensive lineman Akiem Hicks reached an agreement on a one-year deal worth up to $10 million.

Hicks’ signing is significant because it’s clear the Buccaneers envision him as a starter. This is obvious due to the overall value of his deal. Even if the exact details are unknown outside of the fact that the deal is “worth up to $10 million”. Still, Hicks is still going to make a decent chunk of change in regard to his base salary.

No matter how you cut it, the 11th-year veteran will have some kind of say in the Buccaneers’ defensive line rotation. He’s a great fit to play that 3T/4T/5T role next to Vita Vea. He also keeps first-rounder Logan Hall from rushing his development. Hall can be used primarily in subpackages as a pass rusher while he continues to work on his overall game.

This all but leaves Suh of of the Buccaneers’ future plans. He’s still going to command a decent salary and there’s just not enough room in the rotation to justify the salary, anymore.

Hicks has recorded 40.5 career sacks, 111 quarterback hits, and 73 TFLs over the course of his 138-game career. He earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2018 after finishing with 55 total tackles, 7.5 sacks, 16 quarterback hits, 12 TFLs, and three forced fumbles.

Featured image via Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports