Panthers seem like good match for Hakeem Nicks, but he's visiting Colts

Hakeem Nicks speaks to the media in East

Hakeem Nicks speaks to the media in East Rutherford, N.J., after the Giants season ended with a 7-9 record. (Dec. 30, 2013) (Credit: AP)

Don't crown Hakeem Nicks the Homecoming King just yet!

It's long been speculated that the free-agent wide receiver would bolt from the Giants to the Carolina Panthers, a team that plays in the city where he grew up (Charlotte) and near where he played in college at North Carolina. All the pieces seem to be in place for that kind of reunion.

He knows Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman, who was a Giants exec when Nicks was drafted. The team is in need of receivers (as well as some good publicity!) after releasing Steve Smith and letting Ted Ginn Jr. sign with the Cardinals. And, according to one report on Thursday, the team already had made Nicks an offer that would pay him about $4.5 million per season (although the duration of the deal and the guaranteed money were not reported).

And yet Nicks' first visit during free agency will not be to Charlotte but to . . . Indianapolis.

Nicks told ESPN he is meeting with the Colts on Friday. Whether he stays there and signs a contract is yet to be determined. The Panthers and the Chargers also are contenders for his services.

Nicks said last week that he thought he would be "dangerous'' catching passes from Andrew Luck in the Colts' offense and said he wants to go to a team where he will be the "missing link'' to a championship run. That last part certainly would seem to fit for either the Colts or the Panthers.

One thing seems certain: Nicks will not be pulling a Justin Tuck and bringing any offers back to the Giants for them to consider matching.

It seems as if it's only a matter of days, or perhaps even hours, until Nicks is signed somewhere. And with that, the last remaining open-ended major storyline of the Giants during this free-agency period will come to a conclusion.

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