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NFL Free Agency 2014: The market for Hakeem Nicks

Where will Hakeem Nicks play next season, and how much will he end up getting paid?

It seems certain that wide receiver Hakeem Nicks will leave the New York Giants once the bidding for free agents opens for real on March 11. We have said that a number of times. The question is, who will be the suitors for Nicks and how much will they be willing to pay?

Nicks, of course, has followed two dominant 1,000-yard plus receiving seasons with two mediocre seasons filled with injuries and questions about his effort.

Earlier in the offseason I spoke with former Denver Broncos GM Ted Sundquist about Nicks. Let me refresh your memory on what Sundquist said:

"When I look at Nicks I think he's in that transitional bubble stage," Sundquist said. "Do I as a general manager reach out and take a shot at this guy and make the investment that he's asking me to make in him or am I seeing a guy who truly is going to start sliding on the back side?

"I would be hard-pressed, really hard-pressed, to give him the type of money that I think he wants. To even put him into the role of being your primary guy which, when you spend that type of money you're almost forced to as an organization make him your primary guy.

"Can he be that guy? Based upon what I've seen not only in ‘13, but in ‘12 there would be question marks there."

With that as our backdrop, let's look at the potential market for Nicks.

The Favorite

That has to be the Carolina Panthers. Former Giants' pro personnel man Dave Gettleman is the Carolina GM, and was with the Giants when Nicks was at his best. Nicks is a North Carolina native and went to school at UNC. The Panthers have a need with Steve Smith aging and no big-time threats on the outside to help, or replace, him. SB Nation's Panthers' web site, Cat Scratch Reader, has Nicks on the Panthers' short list of potential free-agent targets:

Hakeem Nicks is a guy who we've talked about a lot here on CSR. He has ties to North Carolina, he's expressed interest in playing here, and he's a talented player at a position of great need for the Panthers. In fact, his down year in 2013 may actually allow for Carolina to offer him the cap friendly kind of deal that fits Gettleman's modus operandi. And it wouldn't be out of the question.

The Rest of the Field

New England Patriots -- Face it, Tom Brady is not getting younger and New England desperately needs better receiving targets for Brady. Bill Belichick has never shied away from talented veterans whose work ethic has been questioned in other places.

New York Jets -- They have no real receiving threats, so why wouldn't they at least kick the tires on Nicks?

Detroit Lions -- Yes, the Lions have Calvin Johnson. They are, however, reportedly looking for an upgrade opposite Megatron. SB Nation's Pride of Detroit thinks Nicks might be the guy. Besides, POD found the really cool video of Nicks when he was really Nicks that is shown at the beginning of this post.

St. Louis Rams -- I keep seeing Nicks to the Rams as help for quarterback Sam Bradford rumors, so I have to include them.

Indianapolis Colts -- Indy owner Jim Irsay seems to want to collect all the toys, and Andrew Luck could use another wide receiver.

Baltimore Ravens -- A year removed from a Super Bowl title Baltimore really needs playmakers on offense.

Did I leave anyone out, Giants' fans?

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