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Several NFL clubs are planning to determine the degree to which New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks might be available via trade following New York dropping to 0-6 this week, according to league sources.
Teams view Nicks as the best option available and with the Giants in a freefall, big changes possibly on the way there, and Nicks a potential unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, other general managers want to hear for themselves just how amenable to a trade Giants GM Jerry Reese might be. Several GMs contacted believed the Giants could get at least a third-round pick for Nicks, even if he is just a late-season “rental” who then hits the open market in March.
Nicks, 25, could end up being the highest-paid player in what looks to be a pedestrian free-agent class (tight end Jimmy Graham, for instance, is going to be franchised by the Saints if he isn't extended), and a team acquiring the star receiver at the trade deadline would only owe him about $1.4M for the remainder of the season based on his $2.7M salary).
Among the teams holding internal discussions about him, according to club sources, were the 49ers and Falcons (who lost Julio Jones for the season but are not conceding the season … at least certainly not yet). New England and Baltimore are also contending teams in need of an upgrade at receiver, and the market for Nicks would be robust, sources believe, if the Giants express a willingness to listen to offers.
New York is an old-school team, and wouldn't want to give off indications it is writing off the season, however, with Nicks a big fan of Eli Manning, and someone not seeking a trade himself, the strong possibility always remains the Giants could still re-sign him as a free agent in the spring even if he did depart. There is no ill will or hard feelings between the sides, sources said. It's just the contrary, and Nicks has never blanched or complained about not getting an extension from the team.
The Giants did sign receiver Victor Cruz to an extension however, and with Rueben Randle emerging this season and the team aging and with many holes to fill, some wonder how many resources New York would invest into one position group, like receiver (especially with Manning able to cultivate pass catchers over the years). Nicks would be in line to command more than the $12 million a year Mike Wallace got from Miami in free agency last year.