The National Football League trade dead line came and went yesterday at 4:00 p.m. EST and for former North Carolina wide out Hakeem Nicks nothing happened, remaining with the New York Giants. Now all focus will switch on his performance from here until the end of the season, and after that, it will be all about what happens to the wide out in the off-season regarding his contract.
With half the season gone the fifth year pro has 521 yards, ranking him 22nd overall in the NFL, 180 of those being yards after the catch (36th overall), but still has not found the end zone. Among the top 40 players in the league Nicks and two others have not caught a touchdown this season, while 12 have at least five scores. He has been targeted 68 times by Eli Manning, but has only has 34 catches, 25 for first downs (22nd overall).
If we were to multiple the total yards by two, to make a guess/estimation of what he could have when the season is over, Nicks could or exceed a thousand yards, very close to the 1,052 from 2010, a bit off from the 1,192 the season after.
On the other hand number 88 would have to catch almost a touchdown per game to match the 2011 output of seven scores and even more daunting of a task, the receiver would have to catch close to 1.5 TDs per match up to to try and match what he did in the 2010 campaign. Both goals seems close to impossible to achieve. But what has been missing even more from the wide out’s repertoire are the “big plays” that Nicks was making earlier in his career, prior to the injuries.
On the other hand, from an article in ESPN NY, it seems that the Giants’ wide receiver coach believes that Hakeem Nicks is about to turn the proverbial corner…
“I feel very good about it,” Kevin M. Gilbride said. “I think you can see each week it’s closer and closer to these tremendous catches that we’ve seen him [make] in the past.”
With this being a contract season for Nicks the question is pretty simple… How is his output this year being perceived by the franchises around the NFL? With the other question dangling above the player’s head… Will he still be in the Big Apple come 2014? And the hidden one being… Can he stay away from injuries?
Without a doubt the 25 year old needs to do more than just get to 1,000 yards in order to impress anyone looking to pick up a wide out in the off-season, making their front office and coaching staff believe that he is back to what he was 2-3 seasons back, giving Nicks a possibility at a contract like he is hoping for. And once again, his coach believes that this will happen…
“That’s what I think is going to drive him for the rest of the season,” receivers coach Kevin M. Gilbride said. “I think you’re going to see the plays being made. And this is my true belief in my heart: that he’s getting closer and closer to erupting and making those huge plays that we’ve seen him make in the past.”
Earlier this season the Giants wide out dealt with a finger injury, but to his credit he never used that has a reason for some of his drops. However he has gone from being the wide out people expected to make the big play, to maybe the odd man out when it comes to the receiving core.
The New York franchise is 2 and 6 right now and week nine is their bye week. Once that is done the team will be playing a trio of games at Metlife Stadium. First up will be the Raiders, a squad that is 17th in the league in passing yard defense. After that the Giants will play the Packers on Sunday night, a team which is giving up close to 250 yards a game through the air (21st in the NFL). Finally closing the home stretch versus a divisional foe in the Cowboys, ranking last in opposing passing yard with 315.4 per game, but are right now fighting to get the top spot in the division and make the playoffs.
If Hakeem Nicks wants to show what he can do these next three games will be key. He needs to have at least two games, if not all three, of 100+ yards and at least a pair of scores. Anything less will put him in a position where getting a 1,000 yards for the season and reaching 5 touchdowns for the 2013 campaign will be all but impossible.
But when it’s all said and done, for Hakeem Nicks the next eight games are going to make or break how his off-season contract negotiations go. If he can not show that what he had in the 2010 & `11 seasons then finding the type of contracts most thought he would get will not just be difficult, but close to impossible.
The receiver must show that he can get up to make the spectacular catches, that he can find the end zone, that he can hold on to the ball and most of all that he stays away from any type of injuries. And even by doing all of that he is not guaranteed a major deal, but without them he is sure not to get one.
In the end, if I was to guess, I doubt that Nicks will be donning the Giants jersey next season, but I also doubt that he will be making the big money that most thought he would get with this contract. In the following weeks, as the season progresses, I will post about where I think that the former North Carolina receiver could end up in 2014. Until then make sure to come back often to ISPORTSWEB for info about North Carolina football!