The Giants didn’t just lose to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, they also may have lost Hakeem Nicks.
In a surprise move, Coach Tom Coughlin announced Sunday that Nicks would be inactive for the team’s biggest game of the season because he missed too much practice earlier in the week. The move came as a shock even to Nicks, who insisted during the week that he would be ready to play. This awkward situation further muddles a messy contract situation that dates back to the signing of Victor Cruz’s contract extension before the season. Before that point, it was widely reported that resigning Nicks was the Giants’ highest priority, even above Cruz. When Cruz finally got his 5-year extension, it seemed like an indication that Jerry Reese planned to retain them both.
That’s looking less and less likely, however. Even before Sunday, Nicks has struggled to make an impact on an offense that sorely needs him to contribute. In 10 games played this year, Nicks has only topped 100 yards receiving twice and somehow hasn’t scored a single touchdown. That lack of production has surely hurt his value on the open market, which should make him easier for the Giants to resign (if they want to). But if his benching on Sunday is indicative of a strained relationship between organization and player, the two sides may mutually agree to part ways after the season.
The Nicks situation has been one of the most disappointing storylines of the year. The passing game was supposed to be one of the Giants greatest strengths this year, with Eli Manning throwing for over 4,000 yards in three of the last four years (he fell 52 yards short of that number in 2012), Cruz happily under contract, and Nicks having every incentive to perform in a contract year. That obviously hasn’t been the case, and Nicks’ struggles have been a huge reason why.
If Nicks does leave New York, the team is relatively well suited to move on without him. With Cruz signed through 2017 and 22-year old Rueben Randle showing his own star potential, the Giants have no shortage of talent at the receiver position. That being said, an offense with three star receivers had a tantalizing potential that now looks like it might never be realized. At only 25, I have little doubt that Nicks will eventually regain the form that once convinced New York that he was worthy of being a top receiver. He just might end up doing it somewhere else.