Even before the recent controversy surrounding Steve Smith, wide receiver was one of the Carolina Panthers’ biggest areas of weakness going into the offseason. One of the names that naturally comes to mind is former New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who played at the University of North Carolina and Charlotte’s Independence High School. He was a player that the Panthers may have considered drafting in 2009 had former general manager Marty Hurney not traded away the team’s first round pick, particularly after scoring three touchdowns and making this incredible catch in his final college game at Bank of America Stadium, where Carolina plays home games.
However, it was long thought that the Panthers wouldn’t be able to sign Nicks because of concerns of not being able to afford him. The 26-year old receiver is supremely talented but hasn’t lived up to his potential the past two seasons, hampered by injuries. Now, trying to prove the last two years were “aberrations,” he says he’s willing to sign a one-year contract so that he show he’s still the same player that had consecutive 1,000 yard seasons in 2010-2011, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.
General manager Dave Gettleman is no stranger to these types of contracts, as the Panthers took advantage last year signing both cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and safety Mike Mitchell to one-year deals. Munnerlyn and Mitchell responded by elevating their games to unforeseen levels and playing a large role in the Panthers’ second ranked defense. Gettleman is also no stranger to Nicks himself, as he worked for the Giants when they drafted the wide receiver. Mortensen’s report added that letters from Dr. Robert Anderson and Dr. James Andrews advocating the health of Nicks’ foot and knee in the wake of surgeries have made their way around the league, which may ease Gettleman and head coach Ron Rivera’s minds about injury concerns.
Mortensen reported that Nicks is hoping to sign with a team with an established quarterback, which benefits Carolina as Cam Newton made the Pro Bowl this past season. Between the established Newton, the allure of playing in his hometown, and an obvious need, the Panthers may just be the perfect fit for Nicks on a one-year deal.