It is undeniable to say that Hakeem Nicks under performed this past season in a contract year with the New York Giants. With only 56 receptions, 896 yards, and ZERO touchdowns in 15 games started in 2013, Nicks simply didn't do enough to garner a contract appropriate for a #1 receiver or even a contract worth more than fellow receiver Victor Cruz. Despite his disappointing numbers, Nicks believes that he is a top receiver in the league.
His production can not validate this claim however and he likely played himself out of the large contract he was seeking after his rookie deal. Coughlin did not attribute his poor performance to injuries and there may be multiple factors. Maybe he felt betrayed by the Giants front office when they decided to extend Cruz prior to Nicks, maybe the blame is to be placed on Eli Manning. Either way, his drop in production is baffling and could largely be contributed to the weak O-line play seen by the Giants throughout the season. This is no excuse however and a team should be wary of a long term contract with Hakeem Nicks.
That being said, Hakeem Nicks is an extremely gifted wide receiver when healthy and focus and he proved his value in the postseason during the 2011 Giant Super Bowl run where he caught 28 passes for 444 yards and 4 TDs in four games. That is a postseason average of 7 catches, 111 yards, and 1 TD per game, certainly top wide receiver statistics and they show his ability to bring it during the big games. He has eclipsed the 1,000 receiving yards mark twice in his five year career and is obviously a Super Bowl champion. He is also a big play threat as he averaged 16 yards per reception last season, tenth in the NFL in 2013. Now when Nicks is in the right situation with surrounding talent, he has shown to be a difference maker. He has also never played with another wide receiver the caliber of Calvin Johnson. The one on one matchups Nicks could potentially exploit in a Lions uniform were enough to make other stars, such as Reggie Bush, salivate at the opportunity. The real selling point on Hakeem Nicks for myself is his age. At 26 he has solid years left to make a true impact on the Lions offense and the addition of Joe Lombardi as our Offensive Coordinator as well as the hiring of head coach Jim Caldwell indicate an affinity for a wide open, field-stretching, explosive offense that would highlight his talents. The Lions have already been linked to Hakeem Nicks whenever there were rumors of the Giants trading him for a third round pick at the trade deadline. The Lions obviously didn't feel comfortable moving picks for Nicks or the Giants were unwilling to move him.
I am not advocating a long term deal for Hakeem Nicks because we haven't seen the production in recent seasons to warrant it, but Hakeem Nicks is only 26. If he we were to take a long term deal from any team it could possibly be his final large contract in the NFL and obviously a drop off from what he was expecting to be paid. Now he may choose to head the Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Brent Grimes route and opt for a shorter contract to showcase his talents and receive his payday at the age of 27 or 28 depending on the length of the contract offered by Detroit. If this is a possibility, I would be ecstatic if the Lions decided to move in that direction. This move coupled with a receiver drafted in the mid rounds would be my ideal plan for the Lions at WR. If Nicks proves he is capable of being a consistent #2, fringe #1 we have a very productive player for two seasons as well as a receiver developing behind him with the possibility of re-signing him. If he continues to underperform the Lions can cut ties utilizing a contract similar to Louis Delmas.
Hakeem Nicks still believes he is a top wideout in the NFL and I'm not opposed to giving him the shot to prove it with Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and the Lions offense. This is the prime opportunity to prove his worth to the rest of the league as well as Martin Mayhew and hopefully he can bring that postseason average of 111 yards, 7 catches, and 1 TD per game to the playoffs with Detroit.