It was no secret that 2013 was going to be a pivotal season for Giants' WR Hakeem Nicks. He was entering the final year of his rookie deal coming off a lost season in which he battled multiple leg and foot ailments. He needed to rebound in big way by staying healthy and finding the end zone often.
His counterpart in the receiving corps, Victor Cruz, was given a six-year, $45.879 deal before the season and the former first-round pick was dead-set on cashing in with a big season of his own.
Except for one thing. Through nine games thus far, Nicks has yet to score a TD. The big year he was expecting doesn't appear as if it's going to happen.
He's racked up 570 yards on 38 receptions, however, and has two 100-yard games to his credit. Pretty good by some standards, but for a receiver looking to land a whopping deal, it's nothing but a leverage chip for Jerry Reese.
Make no mistake, poor output or not, the Giants would prefer to keep Nicks in the fold. They could have traded him last month at the trading deadline, but chose not to. Whether or not they were made a viable offer remains unclear.
The Giants know that Cruz' success in the slot hinges on having solid wing men, but with second-year WR Rueben Randle emerging as a threat on the outside, Nicks' value is diminishing even further.
The next seven games and beyond will be telling for Nicks. If he has a flat finish here, he may decide to avoid free agency and take a below-market, hometown offer from the Giants. If he opts for free agency, he may find the market unkind.
Plus, the Giants have quite a few holes to fill this offseason and may not have the financial latitude to compete for Nicks in the free agent marketplace.
It will be interesting to see how the Giants treat Nicks rest of the season. Will they increase his targets to light a fire under him, or just keep things status quo and treat him like just one of a talented group? Stay tuned....