EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Let's be clear that, at this point, there is nothing to the Hakeem Nicks trade talk but outside speculation. The people I've talked to who are familiar with the Giants' plans say they're not entertaining Nicks trade offers at this point and haven't given up on either their season or the idea of keeping Nicks beyond this year. Going into the season, the Giants' plan was to evaluate Nicks' performance after the injuries of 2012 and determine how much they'd spend to keep him for 2014 and beyond. To this point, that hasn't changed.
The speculation isn't unfair. Nicks is a big name with a big price tag on an 0-6 team that seems to have coverage at the position and significant needs elsewhere. It would make sense, if the Giants were sure they were through with Nicks, to try to get something now before losing him via free agency at the end of the season. But they're not sure of that, and the larger question here is how much they could expect to get for the version of Hakeem Nicks that's taking the field for them each week.
When fully healthy and playing his best, Nicks is a true No. 1 wide receiver, one of the best in the league. But he's not playing his best, and there's ample evidence that the leg injuries of prior years have taken a toll. Forget the dropped passes or the incorrect routes that were never, ever a part of Nicks' game prior to last year. Those are things that can come back with increased practice time. For me, the main issue is that Nicks can't seem to separate from defenders anymore. And sure, one of Nicks' great strengths as a receiver is his ability to out-fight defenders for the ball. But the simple fact is that he's struggling to get open, and that's an issue that's likely to follow him to Detroit or New England or San Francisco or wherever he would end up in these trade scenarios.
All of these teams have scouts, and if they're seriously interested in Nicks they've surely been watching what we've been watching. So while they may well conclude Nicks is better than what they have at wide receiver, they're not seeing the 2010-11 version. The question then becomes what they'd be willing to pay for the 2013 version of Nicks. If it's as much as a third-round draft pick for a 10-game rental, that'd be something of a surprise. If it's any less than that, then you have to wonder whether that's worth it for a Giants team that still intends to try to win as many games as it can the rest of the way and might still view Nicks as a part of its future.
So all I'm saying is this: They could certainly trade the guy, and there are plenty of reasons doing so would make sense to those of us looking in from the outside. But just remember that trades don't happen very often in the NFL, period, and that the Giants' internal perspective may not jibe with the external opinions of their situation. They may have reasons to keep Nicks that don't make sense to the rest of us. And unless the price gets to a point they can't refuse, the odds continue to favor Nicks finishing this season as a member of the Giants' roster.