Money is a huge motivator in everyday life, as well as in the sports world. When promotions or raises are on the table employees tend to work just that much harder. With professional athletes the year going into free agency is the ultimate job performance review. The tape is going to speak for itself. If you are still a dynamic difference maker you could become a very wealthy individual. We are talking about life changing money in the major sports. The biggest concern most athletes have going into these make or break years is suffering an injury before the real action even begins. I believe that's why Hakeem Nicks was nowhere to be found during OTAs and why any little tweak during the preseason is going to be treated with kid gloves.
Nicks has already made a lot of money (five years, $12,540,000.on his rookie contract) by any everyday human being's standards, but by NFL standards he is extremely underpaid for a Number 1 wide receiver. For example, Mike Williams of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just signed a six-year $40.25-million contract and he is the Buccaneers No. 2 receiver. Sidney Rice is making$8.5 million dollars this year and he couldn't even be considered in the same league as Nicks. Needless to say Nicks is due a huge raise. Just how much will be decided on the field this season.
We've come a long way from NFL players having to work a second job to support their families. Can you imagine Justin Tuck as a salesman for a concrete company, ala Chuck Bednarik. Many athletes live comfortably nowadays, but they still need to worry about the future and how they can live the same lifestyle after their playing days are over. Some athletes and agents are better at figuring this out than others. Just ask Bobby Bonilla about how his retirement is going as the Mets still have him on their payroll.
Most athletes' highest earning potential is packed into a very short window, even tighter for football players, they are forced to try and max out every penny possible from contract to contract. I don't blame any athlete for being cautious in practice or in the preseason during their walk year because many professional athletes have seen high dollar offers go off the the table due to injuries suffered going into unrestricted free agency.
Eric Mack (@EricMackFantasy) of Sports Illustrated highlighted the players to target because of their impending free agency in this year's fantasy football drafts here.
"1. WR Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants: He was one of our prominent players with an injury risk but if he cannot stay healthy this season, he will likely lose quite a bit of contract money. Bank on him being a model citizen in practice -- you know, actually practicing with the team -- and trying to avoid the dreaded "Questionable" tag that seems to follow him week to week. Nicks, when healthy, can produce 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns, elite numbers at his position. However, he'll barely break the into the top 20 receivers to target on draft day."
Nicks topped his list of players he expects to perform at a very high level because of the money motivation factor and I couldn't agree more. Nicks was once thought of as a top 5 fantasy wide receiver and with this much motivation behind him you could see him finally perform to that level. Even Victor Cruz said after his contract signing that Nicks is the Giants' number 1 receiver. Nicks was quick to agree with Cruz as his confidence needs to be at an all-time high during this "prove it" year.
Luckily his injury history has a lot of people staying away in fantasy football drafts and he can be had in most 12-team leagues in the late-fourth to early-fifth round. While I don't see Nicks re-signing with the Giants in the offseason, I do believe Nicks could give us a great going away present with a huge year that could help us win a championship in our home stadium.
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