As pumped as Hakeem Nicks is about catching passes from Andrew Luck, he seemed even more thrilled about who he’ll be running routes with. That would be T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne (who is coming off ACL surgery).
“That’s exciting,” the newest Colts wide receiver said on a conference call Saturday morning. “It looks like a three-headed monster to me. Last time I was in that situation I won a Super Bowl, so I’m excited about that.”
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That last time was in 2011 when he, Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham were a big part of the Giants’ championship. It was just a little more than two years ago, and yet Nicks is now the 16th of the 22 starters in that game to become a former Giant.
Only 15 of the 53 players from that Super Bowl XLVI roster are still with the team. And, of course, only one of the three heads Nicks referenced remains.
It would have seemed absurd to think, back in February 2012, that Nicks would play just two more seasons for the Giants and catch just three touchdowns during that span. He was their first-round pick in 2009. He was supposedly their priority last offseason when they were negotiating with Cruz. He had caught more of Eli Manning’s passes in the NFL than any other player. But when he became a free agent earlier this week, the relationship between player and organization had deteriorated to the point where Nicks said the Giants didn’t even make him an offer to return.
That’s not to say there are hard feelings. This wasn’t an abrupt divorce. Consider it a mutual break-up.
“There’s still a good relationship there,” Nicks said. “I got much love for the Giants organization. Like I told Jerry Reese this morning when he congratulated me with a text message, I told him thanks for the opportunity, thanks for bringing me into this game. It was a fun run in New York and I cherish every moment of it. Business is business and you have to move on. My career is going to keep on going.”
In Indianapolis. For now, anyway.
Nicks signed a one-year deal reportedly worth $5.5 million with incentives, allowing for him to prove himself to the league after two down years and hit the free agency market again in a year. He’ll be 27 then.
“I thought about that,” he said, “and I believe it’s going to pay off.”
Nicks said he had other offers. He said the Panthers made one to him (he’s a native of Charlotte and played at the University of North Carolina). But he felt that the Colts were the team for him.
“Obviously what they got going, the direction they’re moving in, I feel like it was the best fit for me to come in and complete the puzzle and try to compete for a Super Bowl this year,” he said. “Part of being a free agent is making the choice where you want to go. I feel like this is the best fit. The football coaches, I heard a lot of great things about it. Andrew Luck is one of the best young quarterbacks in the game today and I would love to play with him.”
Nicks also noted that Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was the defensive coordinator at North Carolina in 2007 when Nicks played there.
“This is the best situation for me,” he said. “A great organization and a chance to come in and show them what I can do, what I can bring to the table … There are definitely some relationships here so I’m excited about working.”
Nicks brushed off questions about 2013, about his zero touchdown receptions, and about coming off foot and knee injuries. “Last year was last year, I’m not going to get into that,” he said. “I’m getting a new start now.”
But he also knows that players rarely get a third chance at a fresh start, and if his production does not improve in 2014, his value will plummet.
“I don’t think there’s anything for me to prove,” he said. “I just want to get out there and play football and win championships. My play speaks for myself. I always believed in working in silence and letting my game speak loud. That’s what I do. They’ll see me.”