NFL free agency 2014: Panthers favorite to land Hakeem Nicks, per report

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It's a big task, but Steve Smith's replacement might be incoming.

It's been two years since Carolina Panthers' fans first began salivating over the idea of Hakeem Nicks returning to Charlotte, now that could be a reality.

Nicks was relatively quiet on the first day of free agency with no reported meetings with teams during the initial flurry. One reporter is pegging him landing with the Panthers, however.

This isn't a guarantee, nor is it a report the sides are meeting -- but being the "most likely landing spot" isn't something we've heard about a priority free agent in Carolina for a long time. It's unclear if Nicks is a true No.1 receiver that can carry the load for an offense, but at worst he's a top tier second option on a team in dire need of weapons and far better than anything the team currently has.

The true hammer will drop when Smith is traded or released, which will happen soon. From there the offense needs to find a left tackle who can protect Cam Newton better than Byron Bell and more receivers to round out the team.

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