Last Sunday’s win against the Washington Redskins will likely be the last game that wide receiver Hakeem Nicks plays with the New York Giants. Nicks’ tenure with the Giants ended with him making two catches for 50 yards, and for the season he finished with 54 receptions for 846 yards and no touchdowns. With Nicks entering free agency off of such a disappointing season, the Giants are unlikely to re-sign him. However, they will be just fine in 2014 without him.
Nicks’ struggles this season coincided with the development of second-year wide receiver Rueben Randle. Despite playing behind one of the most established wide receiver duos in the NFL in Nicks and Victor Cruz, Randle forced his way onto the field and got plenty of playing time, ultimately making 41 receptions, including six touchdowns to lead the team.
Randle is actually a bigger target than Nicks, and next year he should be ready to be a full-time starter and take over Nicks’ role as the complement to the smaller and faster Cruz. A duo of Randle and Cruz should pick up where the duo of Nicks and Cruz left off and dominate the Giants’ passing attack for years to come.
The Giants also had a breakout season from third-year receiver Jerrel Jernigan who had 23 receptions and averaged 10 yards per catch. Just like Randle, Jernigan appears ready to take on a bigger role in 2014 and should be a frequent contributor as the team’s third wide receiver.
Assuming the Giants get proficient quarterback play next season — which admittedly isn’t a safe assumption — the team should have a solid trio of wide receivers. Of course, without quality play at quarterback it won’t matter who is playing wide receiver for the Giants.
If Eli Manning can have a bounce-back season in 2014, he’ll have plenty of weapons at his disposal even if the Giants don’t bring back Nicks. There could be some growing pains at first, but ultimately the trio of Cruz, Randle, and Jernigan should work just fine for the Giants. They could eventually become a better group of receivers than what the Giants had with Nicks the past several years.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him on Google.