The New York Giants could breathe a little sigh of relief on Tuesday when one of their two absent wide receivers made their arrival at the team's mandatory mini-camp. Hakeem Nicks finally arrived for the Giants after skipping the team's OTA's last week and took part of the team's drills and 11-on-11's, which can be seen as a positive first step in his preparation for the season.
Nicks had a very under-whelming and underperforming season for the Giants, part of which was due to a knee injury that lingered all season long and held down his numbers; 53 catches for 692 yards and three touchdowns.
The season before, Nicks showed everyone why he is considered one of the top receivers in the league, as he had 76 catches for 1,192 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season, plus 28 catches for 444 yards and four touchdowns in the playoffs; games that helped the Giants get to and win Super Bowl XLVI.
A big part of Nicks' success is the play of Victor Cruz, who since 2011, has emerged as a lethal threat on the field and has had consecutive 1,000-yard seasons for the Giants. When these two are healthy and on the field, they are almost impossible to defend. When Nicks was hurt in 2012, teams were able to double and triple team Cruz and force Eli Manning to look to other targets on the field.
While Cruz is in the middle of a huge contract dispute with the team that has caused his absence from the team thus far, Nicks has one year left on his contract; one that will pay him $2.725 million, which is the money that is owed to him in the five-year, $12.54 million deal he signed back in the summer of 2009 after getting drafted.
The Giants would love to lock up their number one receiver before he gets to free agency, but they also know that Nicks is prone to injuries as well. Aside from the three games he missed early on in 2012 due to the knee injury, he also has dealt with ankle, hamstring and toe injuries in the past; a leg injury kept him out of three games at the end of the 2010 season.
Plus, Nicks had offseason surgery on his foot in May of 2012 at the Giants OTA's last year, an injury that kept Nicks on the sidelines for about 12 weeks.
Despite that, Nicks is still the teams best receiver, and he should be expecting to get paid like one; something similar to what Mike Wallace got with the Miami Dolphins back in March, which was five years and $65 million with $30 million guaranteed. If Nicks can stay healthy and perform at the level he did during 2010 and 2011, then he is looking at that kind of payday, one the Giants know they will have to fork over in order to keep the 25-year-old.
However, if Nicks has another season like 2012 and injuries hamper him, then he's looking at millions of dollars escape him and likely taking a lot less money from the Giants. He could still get paid, but not like how Wallace or Dwayne Bowe got paid.
The 2013 season is a pivotal one for Nicks' career. Will he make the most out of it and be able to cash in on his long-awaited payday? How much he's on the field will determine that one.
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