NFL free agency 2014: Hakeem Nicks would like to play with Cam Newton

Nick Laham

Let the fun, madness and speculation begin.

The Carolina Panthers are in dire need of a wide receiver and one of the top options in free agency just so happens to want to play with Cam Newton.

Hakeem Nicks gave Josina Anderson of ESPN a short list of places he'd like to play and surprise surprise, he's interesting in coming home to North Carolina.

WR Hakeem Nicks to me on his future: "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."

That search for a "long-term deal" could be the sticking point here in Carolina. There's no doubt Nicks is worth the money he'll receive, but it's unclear if there's enough in the Panthers' coffers to make it work. That said, he would immediately become Newton's best receiver and give the team a chance to move Steve Smith into the slot, provided he stays with the team.

I'm of the opinion that Nicks would be worth the gamble. The Panthers need a receiver badly and if that means losing a few ancillary pieces, so be it. Giving Cam a true weapon and potential No.1 receiver trumps the need to retain guys like Mike Mitchell and Ted Ginn, both of whom could be replaced in the draft.

If that means back-loading a deal when the salary cap rises and make the contract long enough that the signing bonus doesn't kill the Panthers, do it.

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