Carl Nicks, a former All-Pro guard has parted ways with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now back in NFL free agency, where are some places he could land?
New Orleans Saints
The most logical destination for Nicks is a return home to the team that made him a star in the first place. It seems fitting since the New Orleans Saints have been trying to replace his presence at guard since he left. He knows the offense. He knows the coaches and he knows the quarterback. The best way for him to rediscover his old form is joining the team that got it out of him.
Thanks to some nifty maneuvers in NFL free agency and the draft, the Miami Dolphins fortified their horrific offensive line at the tackle spots with Branden Albert and rookie Ja’Wuan James. However, questions remain at the guard position. Despite the recent signing of veteran Daryn College, the position is wide open with names like Dallas Thomas, Billy Turner and Shelly Smith vying for the jobs. Adding a veteran like Nicks on the interior would be a tremendous boost, especially with the loss of Mike Pouncey at center.
The situation is a little different for the Cleveland Browns. Like Miami they have questions at guard but their situation isn’t nearly as dire. If they could sign Carl Nicks and get him at close to his best, that would give them three Pro Bowl talents on the left side of their front with Joe Thomas, Nicks and Alex Mack. It would then permit the team to shift promising rookie Joel Bitonio to right guard, giving the team a formidable line and perhaps opening the door for Johnny Manziel to make his debut.
Part of being successful is knowing when to make signings to improve your roster but also when to make them to prevent other teams to improve theirs. For the Atlanta Falcons, they have a chance to do both. Justin Blalock is hardly a fixture at left guard. A healthy Nicks would certainly be an improvement. However, the primary reason to sign him would be to keep him away from New Orleans, a fierce division rival. The Falcons almost certainly know the Saints would love to have him back. Beating them for the NFC South will be hard enough. Best to keep them from getting any better.
Few teams have shown a proficiency to work NFL free agency quite like the Chicago Bears. They always seem to hatch surprises, landing players nobody thought possible. On the surface it doesn’t appear necessary for the team to pursue Carl Nicks. After re-signing Matt Slauson their entire offensive line is back for 2014. At the same time, GM Phil Emery has said from the beginning he loves roster competition, believing it makes the team better. If the money is right they could throw Nicks into the maelstrom and see if he can fight his way into the lineup. The big selling point for them will be offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, who turned the guard into an All-Pro as offensive line coach in New Orleans.