In this edition of the Panther's Free Agent Report, I will take a look at the hot-button issue of the wide receiver position in free agency and the direction the Panthers could choose to go in.
When teams are looking at bringing in free agent pass catcher's through free agency, it can be the highest risk/reward of any single position paying off for a team investing in a player during free agency. You can either reap the rewards or just be stuck giving out money for non fulfilled services. This is what teams general managers have to weigh in their decision on bringing in that missing piece to put their team over the hump and into title contention. Every situation is different, but for the Panthers getting a wide receiving threat in free agency can free up so many more decisions that need to be made on personnel that are on the current roster and in the upcoming draft.
The WR that has been linked the most to coming to Carolina is Hakeem Nicks soon to be an (UFA) of the New York Giants. Nicks is a native of Charlotte and played his high school ball for Independence and attended college at UNC. He has played his entire NFL career for the Giants who drafted him back in 2009 with the 29th overall pick. As everyone knows, Dave Gettleman has been around Nicks when he was with the Giants front office and has already shown a propensity to bring in former Giant free agents as he did in his first year here with both Chase Blackburn and Domenik Hixon. Nicks is still very young at only 26 years old, stands in at 6' 1" and weighs in at 208 lbs. He is also well known for his extremely large hands that measure 10 and 1/2 inches across. Nicks basically catches everything that comes his way.
The good about Nicks is that he has been fairly productive as a NY Giant for the most part of his career up to date. Now many will cite he did not have a touchdown catch for the 2013 NFL regular season. I say that I personally am not as concerned with that as others are making it out to be. The Giants themselves had a down year all around on offense that eventually led to OC Kevin Gilbride stepping down and going into retirement, and Eli Manning targeted Rueben Randle more in the red zone this season than he did with Nicks unlike in past seasons.
The one concern most pundits have claimed about Nicks has been the injury issues during his time in New York. After looking at his overall games played up to date (70 out of a possible 80 regular season games), it really is not the factor I tended to believe it was. Jeremy Maclin from the Philadelphia Eagles another WR I have seen clamored for on CSR has missed more time with injuries than Nicks ever has.
Hakeem Nicks Career Per NFL.com http://www.nfl.com/player/hakeemnicks/80672/profile
|2013||New York Giants||15||15||56||896||16.0||57||0||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|2012||New York Giants||13||11||53||692||13.1||50||3||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|2011||New York Giants||15||15||76||1,192||15.7||68||7||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|2010||New York Giants||13||12||79||1,052||13.3||46T||11||--||--||--||--||--||1||0|
|2009||New York Giants||14||6||47||790||16.8||68T||6||2||8||4.0||9||0||2||0|
Hakeem Nicks Highlights http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsMwv9fhTvo
Now Nicks is coming off two down seasons in a row by his own standards. He is completing his rookie contract of 5 years at $11,075,000. Now Nicks isn't going to be resigned by the Giants cause of concern's about price, production, and durability. I say their loss could be the Panther's gain at the right price. If Gettleman saw Nicks as a good fit, I could see a contract in the realm of 2 years for 4 million with only a million guaranteed plus an option for it to be reworked and extended based on performance. It would be the type of prove your worth contract that would be safe for the Panther's and Nicks also would get paid for 2014.
Hakeem Nicks Contract Per Spotrac http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/new-york-giants/hakeem-nicks/
Now many have there own opinions on who Gettleman should target in free agency, especially adding another weapon for Cam and the offense. Cause IMO Brandon LaFell and Hixon will not be back with Carolina next season and that is one position that needs an upgrade in some form or another going forwards. I looked over players like Jeremy Maclin, Danario Alexander, and Eric Decker. All will be heading in different directions other than coming to Carolina. Maclin has rumors of being courted by the Jets already. Talk about injuries that is what Danario Alexander is in reality. Decker and Riley Cooper will get overpaid where ever they end up and Gettleman isn't rocking that idea. Hicks has always made the most sense as an option for a veteran wide receiver coming here in free agency and I for one hope Gettleman agrees.