The New York Giants seem almost certain to lose free-agent wide receiver Hakeem Nicks this offseason. That means that either in the 2014 NFL Draft or in free agency the New York Giants will likely to looking to replenish the receiving corps for quarterback Eli Manning and new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.
In free agency my inclination is to think the Giants won't be in the market for a potential No. 1 guy like Eric Decker of the Denver Broncos. More likely, they could be in the market for a multi-talented player who can help them not only as a receiving option but also as a guy who could help their anemic kickoff and punt return game.
One of those players is the diminutive wide receiver, running back, kickoff and punt return man from the Kansas City Chiefs, Dexter McCluster.
You remember, of course, when McCluster did this to the Giants during the 2013 season:
Dexter McCluster 89-yd Punt Return TD | LIVE 9-29-13 (via NFL September 29)
The 5-foot-9, 170-pound McCluster made the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2013. He caught a career-high 53 passes, but that is only one way he can contribute.
McCluster averaged 11.8 yards per punt return, ninth in the league, with two touchdowns. He has experience returning kickoffs, though he has not done that job since 2011, and as a running back. McCluster carried the ball only eight times in 2013, but carried it 114 times in 2011.
You think McAdoo wouldn't love to have the kind of versatility McCluster brings as he structures a revamped offense for the Giants. How about special teams coach Tom Quinn? Wouldn't a dynamic punt return man make Quinn look like a better coach? Remember what David Wilson did for the kickoff return group in 2012. As a punt returner Rueben Randle excels at the fair catch, where he was third in the league with 24. As an actual returner, though, Randle was near the bottom of the league, averaging just 8.2 yards per return.
The Kansas City Star figures the Chiefs will try to keep McCluster.
Matt Verderame of SB Nation's Arrowhead Pride makes an impassioned case for the Chiefs to keep McCluster:
McCluster is overlooked around these parts by many, saying he isn't worth an investment long-term. I completely disagree.
McCluster is a huge factor for Kansas City, giving teams one more weapon to prepare for both on offense and returns. All told, McCluster combined for 1,205 total yards, only eclipsed by Jamaal Charles. That type if production is not easy to replace and can't be overlooked.
For the offense, his impact is multifaceted. McCluster is a solid option on third down and a mismatch for any linebacker with his blinding quickness. Additionally, McCluster changes field position so often by making a few men miss and gaining 15 or 20 yards to set up Smith and co.
Special teams coach Dave Toub has plenty to do with the success of the return units, but McCluster is a special talent. He can make space out of nothing with quick feet and good vision, two things even Toub can't teach.
To flip that around, the Giants' lack of ability to change field position -- or even get points -- with their return units in 2013 added pressure to both a struggling offense and an over-burdened defense.
What do you think, Giants' fans? Would you like to see the Giants make a run at McCluster or a player like him?