Will the New York Giants trade wide receiver Hakeem Nicks prior to Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET NFL trade deadline, or won't they?
An informal survey of analysts conducted over the weekend by Big Blue View found that the majority opinion seems to be that the Giants will hold on to the 25-year-old free-agent-to-be and hope they can sign him to a long-term deal at the end of the season. Our fan poll, which is still open to anyone who wishes to vote, found that 77 percent of 2,432 participants (1,881 voters) believe the Giants should trade Nicks.
Previous reports have indicated the Giants are not actively shopping Nicks. According to sources, however, the Giants are listening to offers. ESPN's Adam Schefter says the Giants have thus far "resisted all overtures" regarding Nicks.
The Giants' victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, a second straight win that put them at 2-6 and at least allowed them to dream of making a playoff run in the pitiful NFC East, might make general manager Jerry Reese even less inclined to trade Nicks.
After struggling Monday against the Minnesota Vikings, Nicks showed what he is capable of Sunday with seven catches. He has 34 this season, second on the team behind Victor Cruz, who has 47. If the Giants truly believe they have a chance to win the division, moving the guy most consider their No. 1 wide receiver would seem to be unthinkable.
The bigger picture is, however, more complicated. Reese and the Giants must answer these questions: Do they believe they can sign Nicks to a long-term contract at season's end? Do they even want to? With Victor Cruz signed to a six-year, $45.8-million dollar deal, second-year man Rueben Randle developing into a player who might be able to fill Nicks' role, and serious salary-cap issues heading into 2014 the answers aren't clear.
If they answer yes to those questions Nicks will remain a Giant past Tuesday. If they answer no, then he has to be moved for the long-term good of the franchise no matter what the short-term implications are for this season.
Wide receiver Mike Wallace got a five-year, $60-million deal from the Miami Dolphins last offseason. Nicks will likely seek something similar, though it's not certain he will find it. Maybe the Giants hope they can keep him for a price closer to what they paid Cruz.
The price to acquire Nicks via trade has generally been considered to be a third- or fourth-round draft pick. That, of course, does not seem like a lot. Consider, however, that any compensatory pick the Giants would receive for losing Nicks as a free agent would not come until 2015. Because compensatory picks are based not only on who teams lose, but also who they sign, the Giants aren't guaranteed a compensatory pick if they lose Nicks. So, they face the possibility of getting nothing if he leaves as a free agent.
Potential Trade Partners
There are three teams most analysts consider front-runners in the Nicks Derby, if there is such a thing.
The Indianapolis Colts are in win-now mode, having already made a mega-trade to acquire running back Trent Richardson. With Reggie Wayne lost for the season the Colts simply aren't good enough to reach the Super Bowl unless they acquire a stud wide receiver.
The Carolina Panthers are seen as a likely landing spot for Nicks if he leaves as a free agent. He played at North Carolina, the Panthers' GM is former Giants' pro personnel man Dave Gettleman, and Carolina needs a No. 1 receiver with Steve Smith aging. If the Panthers want Nicks badly enough it follows suit that they would not want to risk him hitting the open market.
The New England Patriots are leading the AFC East despite the collection of nobodies they have at wide receiver beyond Danny Amendola. They are averaging only 22.4 points, 17th in the league, and don't have enough offense to compete with the Denver Broncos. The Patriots might not be willing to part with the draft pick or picks necessary to land the wide receiver they need but ESPN's John Clayton says they can't win this season unless they do.
A few weeks ago I recommended that the Giants trade Nicks. Do I still think they should? That depends simply on how badly they want to keep him long-term and whether they are willing to spend big to do it. If they are, keep him. If not, cut and run.
In the end I don't believe Nicks is going anywhere this season. Part of that is the Giants' belief that they still have a chance this season. The other part of that is that in a passing league where having three, four or five receivers who can threaten defenses is a must getting rid of a player as good as Nicks can be when he is right would be a tough pill to swallow.
The next day or so will be interesting. When the smoke clears and the deadline passes, however, I think Nicks stays with the Giants.