The NFL announced today that the 2014 salary cap increased from $123 to $130 million. For the New York Giants, a team with a league-high 27 free agents (23 of which are unrestricted), this is beneficial news. For former Pro Bowl and Super Bowl champion wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, the new salary cap will not impact stagnant contract negotiations with the Giants.
The Giants need to re-sign Linval Joseph by any means necessary, and the additional cap flexibility should make this pricey goal more attainable. Assuming that Joseph and the Giants come to terms on a deal, GM Jerry Reese will still have tough decisions to make. Justin Tuck, the defensive captain and a key component to both of the Giants’ recent Super Bowl victories, is a free agent. So too is linebacker Jon Beason, who is largely responsible for orchestrating the defensive unit’s midseason turnaround. Both of these players can and should be re-signed by Reese.
Nicks, on the other hand, seems to have fallen out of favor with team management over the past season. The former first-round draft pick etched himself into Giants history with a remarkable 2011 playoff run, but injuries have hampered his play and production over the last two seasons.
Unfortunately, Nicks’ camp and the Giants management had a breakdown when Nicks wanted a long-term contract and the Giants refused to offer one until they felt assured that their star receiver was back to full health. A frustrated Nicks played lackadaisically in 2013, quitting on routes to protect himself from injury. Nicks’ inconsistent play puzzled the Giants organization, and New York management will almost certainly not ante up the long-term $8-10 million per year contract Nicks will request.
Nicks’ recent signing with Jay-Z’s sports label Roc Sports suggests an imminent departure. The rapper-turned-agent’s most high-profile client Robinson Cano recently spurned his hometown New York Yankees for a more lucrative offer with the Seattle Mariners.
Nicks’ move to Roc Sports signifies that he too is looking to capitalize on the most lucrative deal available to him. It’s also the right deal for both Nicks and the Giants. Nicks isn’t deserving of the money he’ll be asking for and frankly, the Giants don’t have the money to spend on him if they want to use free agency to fill other positional needs.
Hopefully for Giant fans, Nicks finds his suitor in a rebuilding AFC team like the Cleveland Browns. When healthy, Nicks is one of the premier athletic talents at the wide receiver position, and the Giants would cringe if he was signed by an NFC East foe like the Washington Redskins, who are more than $20 million under the cap, and proceeded to terrorize New York twice a year for the next decade.