Back in February, yours truly was advocating that the Colts should sign wide receiver Hakeem Nicks to a one-year deal once the NFL new year began. My reasoning: Nicks would come cheap and there would literally be no risk in signing him.
On March 14th, Indy signed Nicks to a one-year, $3.5 million contract.
[Licks finger. Makes air check]
Since then, Nicks has worked in Indianapolis with his old UNC receivers coach Charlie Williams - who is now the WR coach for the Colts - and he's getting his timing down with quarterback Andrew Luck during OTAs. Already, the Colts DBs are signing Nicks' praises. If you want a comparison, I don't recall reading such praise from the secondary towards Darrius Heyward-Bey last season after he signed his one-year deal.
Recently, Yahoo! Sports' Shutdown Corner listed their top overrated and underrated players entering 2014. For writer Frank Schwab, Nicks is one of his underrated:
Unless you think that Nicks peaked at 23, you can find excuses for his poor play the last two years. The Giants as a team didn’t play well. The offensive line wasn’t great. Last year there was no running game to take any pressure off Eli Manning and the passing game. Nicks probably didn’t handle his first time in a contract year very well.
That’s how the Colts ended up stealing him for a one-year deal at less than $4 million. You’re telling me Nicks wasn’t worth that risk for other receiver-needy teams? (Carolina, anyone?) Nicks lands with Andrew Luck in Indianapolis at almost no risk to the Colts, and still hasn't reached what should be his prime years. The best-case scenario for Indianapolis is that Nicks turns it around, loves playing with Luck and signs a long-term deal. At worst, Nicks busts out and the Colts wasted one year and not even $4 million. Or maybe he has a good year and signs elsewhere, which isn’t that bad either. There's really no risk involved.
All told, it won’t be a surprise at all if in December we’re all struggling to figure out how the Colts ended up landing Nicks for practically nothing.
I obviously agree.
I'm not shy about how bullish I was for this signing. I would have taken Emmanuel Sanders too, who eventually ended up signing for a bargain 3-year, $15 million deal with AFC rival Denver. However, when healthy, Nicks is better than Sanders. A ton better.
Problem is, Nicks has struggled to stay healthy his whole career.
The positive is he won't have to be the No. 1 option in Indianapolis as he was often asked to be in New York with the Giants. But, even if he bombs Heyward-Bey-style, he's just signed to a one-year deal.
Again, no risk. BIG reward if Nicks can prove that 2013 was a fluke.