If it wasn't obvious that the Giants weren't going to offer Hakeem Nicks much love in free agency while he was scoring zero touchdowns and gaining just 896 yards during the 2014 season, it became clear enough two weeks ago. That's when a deal between Nicks and the Indianapolis Colts was reported.
The contract will pay Nicks $3.5 million on a one-year "prove it" deal that was probably a little less than Nicks was thinking he could get as a free agent when he gained over 1,100 yards and caught seven touchdown passes for the Giants in 2011.
The Colts are betting that Nicks can approach that premier level of play again when he's not hampered by the lower-body injuries that have sapped his productivity over the past two seasons.
When speaking to the Indianapolis media, Nicks compared the Colts' new trio of himself, Reggie Wayne, and T.Y. Hilton to the trio of wide receivers that the Giants had when they won the Super Bowl at the end of the 2011 season. During that campaign, Nicks teamed with Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham to combine for over 3,000 receiving yards.
In the playoffs of 2011, Nicks went over 100 yards in three out of four games and caught four touchdown passes. That type of postseason playmaking is exactly what the Colts need out of Nicks in 2014. Indianapolis asserted itself as a Super Bowl favorite early on last season, but they faded after losing Wayne to injury.
As for the Giants, they should be fine at the wide receiver position even without Nicks. The departure opens up some playing time for budding star Rueben Randle and late season up-and-comer Jerrel Jernigan. The team also added an old friend in Mario Manningham, who at the very least is a veteran presence who knows how to work with Eli Manning.
New York simply had too many other holes on the roster to worry about retaining Nicks for another season or so. The outbreak of Jernigan at the end of 2013 served as a hint that the Giants would be better served giving some less experienced options a chance.
When it comes to depth, the Giants need it more on the offensive and defensive lines than at wide receiver. That's why it's hard to imagine the team using a draft pick on a receiver before the fifth round in May.
Will Nicks be missed? Yes, but it will be more for his past contributions than for what he could bring to the team in 2014.