Think about it—the league is about to see a major influx of talent at the wideout position via the 2014 draft, and Nicks has already been a fall-back plan for most teams in free agency, with the big cash going to names like Eric Decker, Golden Tate, Anquan Boldin and even Riley Cooper.
Nicks is 26 years old and has yet to play in a full 16-game season over the course of his five-year career. Nagging injuries have plagued the North Carolina product, and his three total touchdowns the past two seasons, including a goose egg in 2013, means he'll be lucky to reel in a one-year, prove-it deal.
Of course, that is not what Nicks wants, as captured by ESPN's Josina Anderson:
Ideally this is what I want: I want to go to a team where I'm the missing link. There are a number of teams that I have my eye on once I hit the market. I know if I went to a place like Indianapolis I would be dangerous with a quarterback like Andrew Luck. I can see myself catching passes from Cam Newton or even Philip Rivers. Players have already started to reach out to me from other teams saying they would love for me to come join them. I just want to make it clear that I want a long-term deal and I want to be happy. I'm excited about talking to teams and making it work.
Nicks hit the nail on the head near the beginning of his statement—it is imperative his first priority is making something work with the front office in Indianapolis.
Anything else is wishful thinking at this point. For example, the San Francisco 49ers are interested in his services, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Patriots free-agent WR Julian Edelman is scheduled to visit the 49ers on Friday, per source. SF also interested in Giants WR Hakeem Nicks.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 14, 2014
At first glance, that's great news—here is a team that will consistently contend for a Super Bowl. But Nicks would be the third, maybe fourth option in the passing attack on a run-first offense behind the likes of Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin.
Is that the type of situation Nicks wants to join in order to turn his career around and land a bigger contract down the line?
What team is best for Nicks?
Probably not. The same goes for the Carolina Panthers, though, the team apparently has no interest in Nicks, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. That would have been a great situation. Although, Nicks would be the No. 1 receiver there with Cam Newton throwing him the ball.
Maybe that's not so bad. Perhaps it's what Nicks desires. But the lack of any other threats on the offense may have meant he found it difficult to produce in front of his home state as defenses throw everything they have his way.
Indianapolis provides the best situation for Nicks, and he may understand this based on the fact he has a meeting with the organization in the cards, as he told ESPN's Josina Anderson:
WR Hakeem Nicks just told me, "I'm flying to Indy tonight. The plan is to meet with the Colts tomorrow."— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 13, 2014
Now there is a perfect fit. The Colts and quarterback Andrew Luck are no stranger to four-wideout sets and could use another consistent option to help move the chains.
In fact, Nicks can be the "missing link" he so desires to be with the Colts. With Reggie Wayne presumably back and healthy and T.Y. Hilton moving around among all four receiver spots, Nicks can be a strong option in the pass-first attack as defenses have to throw more attention at other players.
Nicks easily wins the majority of the snaps as technically the No. 3 receiver over guys like Da'Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill, and he can eventually act as Wayne's successor when he elects to hang up the cleats.
Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star has the right idea in regards to Nicks' fit with the Colts:
Signing Hakeem Nicks makes as much sense as anything else we've discussed all week. He could be what DHB was supposed to be -- and more.— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) March 14, 2014
While certainly not a burner like Darrius Heyward-Bey, Nicks fills the void the Colts attempted to fix last year much better than the drop-happy Heyward-Bey. He dropped six passes last season on 77 targets, while Nicks dropped just two on 96 targets, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Nicks seems to have plenty of options on the table, but he should aggressively work to get something done with the Colts given the great fit that will help him to turn things around in a hurry, provided he can stay healthy.
Heck, a one-year deal with the Colts is not such a bad option if it comes to that. But Nicks has to see the big picture first.
Note: All free agency signing info courtesy of Rotoworld unless otherwise specified.