That’s not something we often see, but we saw it Wednesday, when Giants coach Tom Coughlin indicated he wanted more out of wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.
“He’s got to get better,” Coughlin said, according to a transcript from the club. “He’s got to get to a point where the reliability factor is there as strongly as it always has been. Has it been there up to this point? No, but we’re saying let’s work. Let’s get back to work and get this done. We count on this guy.”
Nicks caught just two of 10 passes thrown his way in Monday’s win against Minnesota. He had his hands on several potential catches that fell incomplete, though some catches would have been tougher than others.
Nicks has caught just 27 of 55 passes this season, the final of his contract. Still, he is on track to exceed 1,000 yards receiving. He has not played as well as hoped, but he has flashed playmaking ability.
Given Nicks’ talent, as well as his impending free agency, the wide receiver’s future in New York is an oft-pondered topic. There are some who might say the time is now to move Nicks, especially if the Giants got back a second- or third-round pick in this year's draft, which features a particularly deep class.
Others might say that the Giants should stand pat, that even if Nicks departs in free agency next offseason, the Giants could well get some sort of compensatory draft pick in 2015, perhaps a third- or a fourth-rounder. By keeping Nicks, the Giants would field their strongest possible team for the rest of 2013 while having exclusive negotiating rights with the wide receiver before free agency begins.
Both options make sense. Either way, would anyone be surprised if Nicks were to test free agency next offseason? He is young (26 in January), talented and productive. Moreover, he plays a highly valued position.
Durability is the major concern with Nicks, considering the variety of leg ailments he’s dealt with throughout his career. Teams interested in Nicks are likely going to be those confident he can stay healthy and those convinced he will be a force throughout the remainder of his twenties.
Whether the Giants move Nicks or not, they were wise to sign Victor Cruz to a contract extension in July. Cruz has been the Giants’ most consistent offensive player, and he is in the prime of his career. Cruz, who does not turn 27 until November, is on pace for 91 catches, 1,351 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013 — No. 1-receiver-type production.
Moreover, the Giants are also in a good position with second-year receiver Rueben Randle, who’s signed through 2015 on a rookie contract. Randle will make $664,266 next season and $813,899 in 2015, according to Rotoworld. Given the potential the 22-year-old Randle has shown, his compensation looks very team-friendly.
No matter how the Giants proceed in the next five days before the trade deadline, they should be OK at wide receiver next season. They have a playable hand. Nicks? He’s not in bad shape, either. The sense here is that he’ll do just fine on his next contract, that someone will take the plunge. However, we if he were in the midst of an ideal contract year, we wouldn’t be talking about Coughlin talking about him.