Hicks spent his first four NFL seasons with the Saints (2012-15) and Patriots (2015), appearing in 61 games with 33 starts and recording 140 tackles, 9.5 sacks and 22 tackles-for-loss.
The 6-5, 324-pounder was selected by New Orleans in the third round of the 2012 draft when Bears general manager Ryan Pace worked in the Saints' personnel department.
Hicks, who is 26, appeared in the final 13 games of the season and two playoff contests for New England, compiling 21 tackles and three sacks.
Hicks was born in Elk Grove, Calif., the same hometown as former Bears linebacker Lance Briggs. Hicks played at Sacramento City Community College before signing with LSU. But he was unable to play at LSU due to minor recruiting violations and transferred to the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada, where he played two seasons.
Hicks is the second free agent the Bears have signed with ties to Saskatchewan. Inside linebacker