New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks was supposed to be great this year. He used to be great, and with free agency looming at the end of the season, his hope is to be paid like a great wide receiver. He didn't negotiate a new deal with the Giants in the offseason because he was injured and not great last year, and he and they thought he could go out this year, be great again and then they could talk about what he meant by No. 1 wide receiver money.
Thing is, though, Nicks has not been great. He's been healthy enough to play every game, and he's Eli Manning's second-most targeted receiver behind Victor Cruz (and not that far behind), but he hasn't been productive. He's on pace for a 62-catch, 1,074-yard season, which is fine but certainly not great, and he has yet to catch a touchdown pass. Should have caught one Monday night, but he dropped it, as he did two other passes. The Giants are scratching their collective organizational head.
Nicks' reputation is one thing, and it's well earned. But right now he doesn't look like the player he used to be. The drops are one thing, but the bigger concern is that he can't get any separation at all from defenders, and it appears to be because his legs are shot from all of the injuries of the past couple of years. Do the legs come back? Hard to say. He's only 25 years old, so he's not done by any means. But the way he's playing right now makes it difficult to have success or to make big plays. He has to out-fight defenders constantly if he's to succeed, because he's not able to get open. He's strong enough and a good enough technician to win those fights, but that's no way to make a living. And it's certainly no way to convince your team to give you a big contract or some other team to trade a high draft pick for you.
Through seven games, Nicks has caught 27 passes for 470 yards, which isn't efficient considering he's seeing 7.9 targets per game. He's still startable most weeks because he's relatively healthy and the Giants are throwing a bunch, but he isn't the Hakeem Nicks we're used to seeing.