New York Giants: Has Rueben Randle Made Hakeem Nicks Expendable?

By Greg Sulik
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

As the 2013 NFL Trade Deadline approaches, one of the biggest names that keeps popping up in rumors is New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. Nicks’ contract expires after this season, and there doesn’t appear to be any sign of a long term contract extension coming up in the near future. Nicks has not played up to his potential or reputation this season, and the Giants might be interested in moving him before the deadline.

One of the biggest reasons that the speculation surrounding Nicks has gotten so much attention is the emergence of second year receiver Rueben Randle. Randle and Nicks have had similar production this season, with Randle catching 23 passes for 373 yards and 4 TDs, while Nicks has 27 catches for 470 yards and 0 TDs.

Nicks was thought to be an up and coming star in 2010 and 2011, but multiple leg injuries have caused him to miss games and resulted in a subpar 2012 campaign. Nicks hasn’t been anything special in 2013, and he has had some drop issues. For a player who wants to be seen as and paid like a No. 1 receiver, the production is simply not good enough.

Randle has shown the ability to match Nicks’ production, and he could becoming a very good starting receiver. Randle definitely has some fumble issues, and he could use some polishing as a route runner. However, Randle has a great blend of size and speed, and he has demonstrated his big play abilities several times this season.

Of even more importance to the Giants, Randle is under contract for 2 more years at a total of approximately $2 million. Nicks, on the other hand, will command something that resembles the 6-year, $46 million contract the Giants gave Victor Cruz this offseason. Committing approximately $16 million a year to two wide receivers is not the best use of funds, especially for a team that has some cap issues.

Eli Manning makes over $20 million a year, putting a gigantic dent in the Giants’ salary cap. Justin Tuck’s contract is coming off the books, but the Giants still need to decide if they want to extend him. Jason Pierre-Paul and Prince Amukamara are going to need contract extensions soon, and the Giants really need to sink some money into their offensive line and linebackers this offseason.

With all the spending needed and Randle already on the roster, the Giants could very well decide that the money just isn’t there for Nicks. If they do, it would make far more sense for them to trade him now and get a draft pick or two, as opposed to watching him walk in free agency. The Giants aren’t contending for a playoff spot this year, so if Nicks isn’t in their future plans there is no reason to hold onto him.

The Giants should be able to get good value for Nicks, as  he will only turn 26 in January and has a track record of success. The Giants have a lot of holes, and they could use the extra draft picks to start fixing their declining, veteran roster. Rueben Randle and the Giants’ financial issues make Nicks expendable, and they would be wise to get value for him while they can.

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