New York Giants 25-year-old wide receiver Hakeem Nicks will be in the final year of the rookie deal he signed coming out of North Carolina in 2013, and the Giants have identified signing Nicks to a long term deal as their top priority. Yes, the Giants want to lock up Nicks before getting a deal done with impending RFA and fellow star wideout Victor Cruz. This news comes to us from ESPN’s NFL Insider extraordinaire Adam Schefter.
This is pretty big news too, because it means that the Giants would rather get a long-term deal done with Nicks than Cruz. That’s not actually too much of a surprise, though, given that Nicks has been a top receiver for the Giants for longer and the team views him as their No. 1 wideout.
The interesting thing is that when both players were fully healthy in their Super Bowl winning campaign in 2011, Nicks barely had more targets than Cruz. He has also been less productive on a per-target basis with a lower catch rate and a lower average of yards per reception. So it is fair to criticize the Giants for prioritizing Nicks over Cruz due to the fact that Cruz has better numbers. However, it sometimes seems like Hakeem Nicks’s skill-set matches that of a No. 1 wide receiver better, but the numbers are almost impossible to ignore.
It might be easier for the Giants to get a deal done with Nicks, but one note of concern is that Nicks has never played a full season. The interesting thing is that Nicks is actually a year younger than Cruz, and it seems like the Giants value his consistency, ability to move the chains, unique athleticism, his ability to command double teams and ease pressure off of the other receivers (like Victor Cruz), and his red zone ability enough to view him as the No. 1 guy. I can’t blame them.
But make no mistake, the New York Giants are still extremely interested in bringing Cruz back- as they should be. Here is what owner John Mara said, ”We certainly want him back, but like with any player, there’s a limit to where we’re going to go. He’s been a terrific player for us, he’s a fan favorite, he does a lot for our franchise, but there is a limit.”
Based on what Mara said, I think the Giants are prioritizing Hakeem Nicks because they think it will be easier to get a long-term deal done with him than Cruz. That makes sense based on the early indicators, and this might not even be a case of the Giants wanting one player more than another. But man, you have to at least think that this means the Giants view Nicks as their true No. 1 guy, and Schefter more than just hints at that in the second paragraph of the article.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.