6'1, 208 lbs
Summary: Injuries the last two seasons could significantly drive down his asking price in free agency, making Nicks an attractive low risk, high reward signing for the Colts.
To say that New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks struggled last season is an understatement. In fact, his last two seasons have been very underwhelming. For a player who seems likely to emerge as one of the best wideouts in the game - coming off 76 catch, 1,192 yard season with 7 touchdowns and a Super Bowl victory in 2011 - Nicks had only 53 catches in 13 games in 2012 and 56 catches in 15 games in 2013.
Injuries have been what has held Nicks back. In 2013, it was an abdominal injury and a high ankle that severely limited him. In 2012, Nicks injured his knee and, earlier in the Spring of that year, he broke his foot.
That's a loooooooong list of medical issues for a guy that was once called "the lynchpin" of the Giants' offense by New York's general manager Jerry Reese.
I don't think anyone can question Nicks' competitiveness and toughness. Despite all these injuries, he missed only 4 games in two seasons. That said, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported earlier this year that the Giants do not expect to bring back Nicks due, in part, to him being fined multiple times by the team in 2013 for being late to meetings and scheduled treatments.
Now, it's important to note that Tom Coughlin coaches the Giants, and the man is, how shall we say, a ridiculous stickler for time. Everyone seems to get fined in NY for being "late" to things. As Rapoport noted:
Hakeem Nicks is not the only player to be late & miss treatment. He’s not a bad guy. But in a contract year, this frustrated #Giants.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 19, 2014
The injury concerns are legit, and it is very possible that Nicks is "done" in terms of being an elite NFL player. However, Nicks' injury history will very likely drive down his free agent price tag, making him an intriguing player for a team like the Indianapolis Colts, who are looking to improve their wideout depth.
Inking Nicks would be similar to last year's signing of former-Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw. While Bradshaw only last three games into the season before landing on injured reserve with a neck injury, his one-year contract was low risk, high reward for the Colts. A similar investment could be made with Nicks, who is likely looking to prove to general managers that his injury-plagued seasons in 2012 and 2013 were flukes.
I remember many readers here at Stampede Blue advocating back in October of last year that the Colts should have traded their second round pick in 2014 for Nicks after Reggie Wayne was lost for the season with a knee injury. In hindsight, THANK GOD RYAN GRIGSON DIDN'T MAKE THAT TRADE!!!
Come March of this year, it's very possible the Colts could lure Nicks into the fold with a one-year contract worth about $2.2 million. It's a deal not to different from the one they gave Donnie Avery in 2012 and Darrius Heyward-Bey in 2013.
When healthy, Nicks is much better than both Avery or DHB. He can shred a defense, making circus catches on the outside by utilizing his size.
In 2013, he had 7 drops and a catch percentage of 57%, according to Pro Football Focus. In 2011, when he was considered a top tier wideout, he had a catch percentage of 59% and 8 drops.
If his price is low enough, it makes sense to explore Nicks as a viable option. Ryan Grigson spent much of his career scouting for the Philadelphia Eagles, and he knows Nicks' skill set very well.