There is always a difference between where a player should and will land during an off-season. For 2014 NFL free agency, where could the former be for Hakeem Nicks?
Obviously this team makes the most sense for a number of reasons. First of course is roster need. Cam Newton can’t live off of Steve Smith anymore and it’s clear the Carolina Panthers have nobody of #1 receiver value to replace him. Despite his quiet 2013 season, Nicks has the track record to fill that role as he did in New York, or at the very least take a lot of the pressure off the veteran Smith and perhaps pair with somebody the Panthers get in the draft. There is also the connection with GM Dave Gettleman who was director of pro personnel in New York when Nicks was drafted. Throw in the fact he was born in Charlotte and it seems like a perfect match.
San Diego Chargers
Getting a chance to play with a five-time Pro Bowl quarterback like Philip Rivers is never a bad thing. The fact that the San Diego Chargers play in beautiful weather eight times out of the year also can’t hurt their chances to attract Hakeem Nicks, who has lived in the cold, blustery Big Apple since entering the league. A change of scenery to warmer climates could perhaps lengthen his career and puff up his stats. San Diego needs somebody to help compliment Keenan Allen. Nicks has good size and speed for Rivers to use on the outside.
It’s hard to argue against this destination. A stable franchise that plays in a dome, which caters the most to wide receivers. They have plenty of money to pay him but most of all they have a blossoming superstar for a quarterback in Andrew Luck. The Indianapolis Colts know they are getting closer to competing for a championship but there are still some holes left to fill. Rounding out the receiving corps is one of them. Reggie Wayne is aging and there isn’t anybody who could step up consistently opposite T.Y. Hilton. Adding Hakeem Nicks on the outside could allow Wayne to do the bulk of his damage from the slot, perhaps extending his already superb career a few more seasons. It also could give Nicks a bevy of more chances at a ring.
The saying goes with almost any business. “Follow the money.” The Oakland Raiders need to upgrade their receiving corps while they continue their search for a quarterback. They currently possess the most salary cap space at over $60 million. Like San Diego they are on the west coast in nice weather. If Nicks is willing to gamble on their quarterback plans, his biggest payday may come from them. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson is respected and particularly proven with veteran receivers as he showed with the likes of Isaac Bruce, Tory Holt and Vincent Jackson.
It’s safe to say there is no shortage of options available to Hakeem Nicks. What it comes down to is how important the balance is between winning and money. The contenders for his services will become clear once that is answered.