Hakeem Nicks' weekly texts to Sean Payton help land him on Saints

Hakeem Nicks has 5,081 receiving yards and 31 touchdowns in seven NFL seasons. AP Photo/Chris Tilley

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Hakeem Nicks isn't ashamed to admit it. The veteran wide receiver was texting Sean Payton every week this summer, pushing for a job after he worked out for the New Orleans Saints in May.

He'd write things like, "Let's hunt," and would often throw in his training videos.

Payton never replied. "Just like a head coach," Nicks cracked. But he knew Payton was getting the message.

"You know how on text messages you can see the little 'r' that says 'read,'" Nicks said with a smile.

Clearly Payton did get the message, since the Saints signed Nicks this week after placing veteran receiver Vincent Brown on injured reserve.

Payton said there was a lot to like about Nicks, a former New York Giants standout and Super Bowl champion. Payton said Nicks is in good shape, has good experience and has strong hands in traffic. He said the 6-foot-1, 208-pounder has "played in some big moments." And he said Nicks has a "personality that obviously can be infectious and help the room."

"Plus," Payton added, "he wouldn't stop texting me."

Nicks, 28, said his agent stayed in touch with other teams. But the Saints were the only one to get a personal full-court press from his cell phone.

The reason he was so intent on landing in New Orleans is because he said he thinks the Saints' offense is such a good fit for him, not to mention working with Payton and Drew Brees.

"[Payton] is a brainiac when it comes to offenses," Nicks said.

And as Nicks has struggled to find a good fit in recent years -- bouncing from New York to Indianapolis to Tennessee, back to New York -- he said he has learned about the importance of finding the right fit.

"I was learning the business," Nicks said. "I started studying offenses. I wanted to look at [why] I hadn't had much success since I'd been with [former Giants offensive coordinator Kevin] Gilbride. Being younger, you think you can just go fit in anywhere, any offense. I was oblivious to that.

"So as I got older and started talking to some older guys that had been in the league, you know, you've got to fit your skill set. So I started studying some offenses, and I feel like this is the best fit."

Nicks had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with the Giants in 2010 and 2011, and helped them win a Super Bowl. The former first-round draft pick has 5,081 receiving yards and 31 touchdowns in seven NFL seasons.

However, he has battled leg injuries throughout his career -- including a knee injury that he said he "kind of kept quiet" last summer before he was released by the Titans last season.

Nicks said the recent down years have served to "put a little bit more chip on my shoulder, that's all."

He'll need a strong summer to earn a spot on the Saints' roster. But there is an opportunity for him to win a job along with returning starters Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead and second-round draft pick Michael Thomas. Nicks is by far the oldest receiver on New Orleans' team now, since the Saints released longtime veteran Marques Colston this offseason. No one else is older than 24.

"Whatever they put on the table for me, I'm going to exceed it to the max," Nicks vowed. "I know the situation. I'm a man, and I know what I've got to do."