No doubt a five-year, $47.5 million contract played a role. But Nicks said it was time for a change.
“The run game, man,’’ Nicks said, when asked what attracted him to the Bucs. “No disrespect to our team (the Saints), but we’re pass first, pass second, pass third, pass fourth, fifth and sixth team and maybe some runs at the end. The Saints have great running backs. But here it’s a little different. We’ve got a big bruiser (LeGarrette Blount). We’re going to pound the ball, pound the ball and go over the top.’’
Nicks will learn to speak of the Saints in the past tense as he gets settled in Tampa Bay. He said New Orleans made a respectable offer to keep him, but he has no qualms about leaving a pass-happy offense in which he and Jahri Evans were considered the best guard tandem in the NFL. Nicks will start opposite Davin Joseph with Jeremy Zuttah moving from guard to center. Nicks said he got to know Joseph at the Pro Bowl at the end of last season and is looking forward to playing with him.
“Me and him together is going to be just as good, if not even better than me and Jahri were,’’ Nicks said. “We’re both physical. We both like to maul people, finish the blocks.’’
Oh, here’s a little nugget from ESPN Stats & Information that supports that Nicks came to the right place if he wants to help create a running game. Last season, the Saints averaged 6.6 yards per carry when running to the left (or behind Nicks). That was the second-best average in the NFL. When running to the left last season, the Bucs averaged 3.0 yards per carry, the worst figure in the league by over a yard.
Nicks said the expected disciplinary actions by the NFL against the Saints for their bounty program were not at all a factor in his decision to leave New Orleans.