It is all but official that Hakeem Nicks’ time with the New York Giants is over. After proving to be one of the best draft picks in the Jerry Reese era, Nicks had an uncharacteristically bad season that saw him finish with zero touchdowns and a plethora of issues with the Giants brass. Reese never even made much of an effort to prevent Nicks from hitting the market. Despite his troubles, the Giants should make an effort to re-sign the enigmatic wide receiver.
Nicks’ trouble with the Giants this past season was very well documented. He was reportedly fined multiple times by the Giants for missing treatment appointments as well as showing up late. This is just compounded by the aforementioned statistical problems.
Probably the most damning issue was his apparent lack of motivation numerous times in the season. One such instance occurred when Nicks took himself out of the game against the Green Bay Packers in Week 11. In his place was Louis Murphy, who promptly ran an incorrect route leading to a Tramon Williams interception.
While all the concerns mentioned are legitimate, they do not tell the whole story. The former first-round pick was an integral part of the Giants championship run in 2010-11. In four games he totaled 28 receptions, 444 yards and four touchdowns, including a 10-reception, 109-yard performance in Super Bowl XLVI.
He has the big play ability that is coveted in receivers and is still young at only 26 years old. He recently sent out a report that his nagging foot and knee injuries are of no concern. He also stated that he was open to accepting a one-year "prove it" deal, much like what Jeremy Maclin received, although he quickly retracted that statement, voicing his desire for a long-term deal.
Unfortunately for Nicks, he will not get much in the way of long-term deals. The timing of his dive into free agency syncs up with the deepest pool of receiver talent since he was drafted in 2009. This will drive his stock down a bit as most of the young receivers won't have nearly as much baggage as he does and will come cheaper.
Now to tie this all together. Reese likes players who give him the most bang for his buck and Nicks could certainly fit that bill. As stated, even though Nicks is one of the top receivers in free agency, his best bet may be to take a cheap one-year deal. No team knows Nicks better than the Giants and Reese, who surprised a few experts when they drafted him over Rutgers receiver Kenny Britt.
Given their familiarity with him and his familiarity with Eli Manning, they may want to keep him as a trusted target for Manning while he learns the new offensive scheme being put in place by Ben McAdoo. This feeling of familiarity is only magnified by Reese's lack of trust towards third-year pro Rueben Randle. As Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News wrote:
The 6-2 Rueben Randle, who led the Giants with six receiving TDs in 2013, seems Nicks’ heir, but he has a history of miscommunicating with Manning. GM Jerry Reese gave Randle a lukewarm endorsement last month, saying that “the jury is still out” on him.
Nicks would give Manning a familiar target and should come at a relatively low cost. This would be your typical 'low risk, high reward' type of contract. If Nicks finds his championship form, then Reese looks like a genius. If Nicks bombs, then the Giants can admit their mistake and move on. Either way, things couldn't go worse than last year, right?