We all know New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks didn't catch a touchdown pass in 2013, that he's a free agent and that it's unlikely he'll be back with the Giants in 2014. None of this is news to anyone who's been paying attention. But Ian Rapoport's report Sunday was interesting in that it offered some details about reasons for which the Giants fined Nicks during the season -- specifically, being late and missing treatments for injuries.
I hadn't personally heard that, but it doesn't surprise me. I know the Giants left Nicks inactive for the Nov. 24 game against Dallas because they were upset he missed practice to get checked out for a hernia the week before, and I know the coaching staff had a hard time concealing its frustration about the way Nicks performed on the field all season long. I also know Nicks didn't carry himself well this year, referring often to "my situation" (meaning his contract situation) when explaining certain things that were going on. He certainly offered us all implicit permission to believe that making it to free agency without getting hurt was his priority. It was surprising and out of character for a player who'd never been a diva or a me-first guy before. And while self-interest may be understandable in the unforgiving, non-guaranteed-contract NFL, it's not the kind of thing that endears you to coaches and teammates who are trying to win games in the meantime.
So what happens now? Well, as I said, I think the strong likelihood is that the Giants look to replace Nicks via free agency and/or the draft. I don't know that it's certain he's gone. For instance, owner John Mara spoke up in defense of Nicks the day after the season ended, during a news conference in which Mara wasn't holding much back. They have seen the best of Nicks as well as the worst, and as I wrote last week, there are still a couple of ways this could go. Everything has a price, and if somehow the market Nicks envisions for his services doesn't materialize, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he could sign back with the Giants for less than he wants.
But when you combine the way Nicks performed this year as the offense fell apart with the strong chance that accumulated injuries have sapped him of his early-career speed and explosiveness, and then you add in the likelihood that other teams will be interested, it makes sense for the Giants to look at other options. Nicks wears a Giants Super Bowl ring and will always be a part of positive memories for Giants fans. But as of right now, in the wake of this very disappointing 2013 season, he doesn't look like a player in whom the Giants should invest any more time and money.