It seems appropriate that we come to wide receiver Hakeem Nicks at this point in our player-by-player breakdown of the 90-man roster the New York Giants will bring to training camp. With the signing of Victor Cruz to a long-term contract, Nicks' future has been a source of debate. He can be a free agent after the 2013 season, and is likely to seek a rich long-term deal of his own.
Let's put Nicks under the microscope.
2012 Season In Review
A down year for the 2009 first-round pick. First, a broken foot suffered during OTAs impacted his preparation and slowed him early in the season. Then, a knee injury that required offseason surgery cost him games and affected him when he was playing. The result was a sub-par 53-catch, 692-yard season. He also averaged a career-worst 13.1 yards per catch, and scored only three touchdowns. That's a far cry from the 76 and 79-catch seasons he had the two previous years, when he went over 1,000 yards receiving both times and totaled 18 touchdowns. It's also not what the Giants needed from the guy they consider their No. 1 receiver.
If Nicks is healthy his production should equal or surpass 2010 and 2011 levels. The question, as it seemingly always is with the 25-year-old who is entering his fifth season, is whether or not he can stay healthy. Nicks has never played all 16 games and forever seems to be fighting through some type of injury.
There is no doubt about his impact on the Giants' offense when he is healthy -- we saw last season the problems Nicks' physical limitations caused for Eli Manning and the Giants. Nicks is one of those receivers who is open even when he isn't open because he can use his size, huge hands and physicality to catch balls in heavy traffic.
Nicks, of course, will play 2013 with his eye not only on helping the Giants but on the rich payday that awaits the free-agent-to-be after the season should he have a huge year.