I must admit that when the talk begin essentially in the 2013-14 preseason of the Panthers targeting Nicks in Free Agency this year I was an extreme doubter. As time has gone on I have become more welcomed to the idea of at least giving Nicks a 1 year "prove it" deal and allowing him to test out chemistry with Cam Newton. I would think that the low amount of production and lack of total offense on the Giants last year AND the fact that Nicks is a Charlotte native will give the Panthers a little bit of a negotiable edge. When watching game tape on Nicks from his more productive year I was shown a forgotten gem that would could also afford in free agency this year...Panthers fans I give you Mr. Mario Manningham!!!
Manningham is an extremely productive and sizable receiver. He has the route-running capabilities, speed, and tenacity to drive through defensive backs along the way. Due to the fact that Manningham has been on IR and all but forgotten at San Francisco; this will give a complete opportunity to Panthers to snag both of these ex-Giants.
If this situation happened we would get two performers at wide receiver that Gettleman is both familiar with and has extensive knowledge of. Just imagine our depth at WR: #1: Nicks #2: Manningham Slot: Smith #4: Ginn Jr. Backups: Hixon, McNutt, and King. These receivers are both young and previously productive. If we got both these guys on a one-year "show me" contract it would all but solve the receiver issue while giving us more flexibility in the draft and also while not breaking the bank.
Just think what this move would do for our draft selections; instead of reaching for a WR in the first or second we can get a compatible OT or CB in the first or second. I would still pick up an Abbrederis, Moncrief, or Coleman in the third. This free agency move would completely solidify our offense and receiving core while allowing the draft to intensely focus on the Defensive side of the ball and making that unit completely elite.
The downside of this deal is that both Nicks and Manningham have an injury history, but I believe both are worth what we'd invest in a one-year deal and would pay off. Also I know we have confident backups ready to go in Ginn Jr. and Hixon if they go down. Even McNutt and King will be ready to produce if their names are called upon next year.
This WR free agency move is a total win-win situation with the Panthers and should be done when free agency starts.