The Carolina Panthers desperately need new receivers since both Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell will both be playing elsewhere in 2014. However, the Panthers can’t just throw money at any player because then the 12-4 season they put together in 2013 would become a distant memory this time next year. The latest NFL free agency rumors suggest Carolina is trying hard to sign Hakeem Nicks, but it can’t overpay for him or he’ll undoubtedly be a bust.
Nicks had a couple of good seasons with Eli Manning and the New York Giants in 2010 and ’11 but battled injury and inconsistency in ’12 and ’13 while Victor Cruz carried the receiving load in the Big Apple. Put simply, if the Panthers think Nicks is going to come in and be a dynamic No. 1 receiver for them, they’ve got another thing coming.
Carolina needs a bonafide No. 1 target to be consistent in running routes, getting open and catching the football. Without someone else to attract a majority of the defensive attention, Nicks can’t do that. He’s already lost a step because of all the injuries and hasn’t been successful against opposing No. 1 cornerbacks in three years. That won’t change if he signs with Carolina, so the Panthers need to give him a small deal as a No. 2 receiver and then go hard after another pass-catcher on whom they can actually rely.