Hakeem Nicks 2014 NFL Free Agency Destination: Baltimore Ravens


November 25, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (88) scores a touchdown while defended by Green Bay Packers corner back Davon House (31) during the third quarter of an NFL game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are in a rather awkward dilemma.  For years they have operated NFL free agency on the notion of  keeping their own players if possible and building through the draft.  Most of the time it works but the team could see some serious problems arise at wide receiver in 2014.  Not only is star slot man Victor Cruz up for a new deal again after signing his one-year tender for this season, but their best outside threat Hakeem Nicks is also scheduled to reach the open market for the first time.

Eli Manning hoping Giants can keep Nicks and Victor Cruz

Balancing free agency with the long-term safety of the team is a difficult task for every general manager.  Jerry Reese knows this.  He also knows keeping quarterback Eli Manning happy is one of his top priorities.  That is why the Nicks and Cruz situation must get resolved sooner rather than later.  Manning already expressed worry when both players didn’t show up for mandatory minicamp practices because of contract disputes.  A bigger worry is whether this will become a season-long distraction, whether in the media or on the field.  Hakeem Nicks the player is coming off an injury-marred year that saw him finish without 1,000 yards receiving for the first time since his rookie season of 2009.  Clearly the goal ahead of him is to recapture his old form what with millions of dollars and his future at stake.  If he falters or gets hurt again, that will compel the Giants to focus on locking Cruz up first.  This will either leave him with the smaller new deal or the compulsion to try his luck with a new team.

Ravens mulling how to arm Joe Flacco after losing Anquan Boldin

History proves there is never a shortage of teams looking for offensive firepower.  Surprisingly one that may take a stab at free agency at some point is the Baltimore Ravens.  The world champions currently face uncertainty at receiver after having trading veteran Anquan Boldin to San Francisco.  While Torrey Smith remains the favorite target of Joe Flacco, the list of names behind him is filled with unknowns.  Playoff hero Jacoby Jones should slide into the starting job but he has never played in that role before, leaving some to wonder if it is best suited for him.  Barring that, Baltimore seems content to ride out training camp with a host of young receivers such as Tandon Doss and Deonte Thompson.  They don’t want to go after a veteran option until they are sure of what they have.  If none of them can prove able to replace Boldin, then the Ravens may strike early in 2014 to find help.  Hakeem Nicks is their kind of player:  big, tough, experienced and prone to making clutch catches.

If the Giants choose Cruz over him, then joining another winning team with a Super Bowl winning quarterback may suit him just fine.