The New Orleans Saints appear to be comfortable with their wide receiver corps after releasing Hakeem Nicks on Monday.
Once upon a time, after being drafted in the first round by the New York Giants (29th overall, 2009), Hakeem Nicks was one of the most promising wide receivers in the NFL. Back-to-back 1,000-yard, 70-plus catch seasons in 2010 and 2011, at 22 and 23 years old, had Nicks in line to earn trips to the Pro Bowl on a regular basis.
But lower body injuries quickly sapped Nicks of what he had talent-wise. After two disappointing seasons with the Giants, he landed with the Indianapolis Colts in 2014 and didn’t fare any better despite playing all 16 games (38 receptions for 405 yards and four touchdowns). It was not a good look when Nicks blamed the Colts’ offensive scheme for his struggles, and the talent-starved Tennessee Titans didn’t even carry him into the regular season in 2015.
Nicks landed back with the Giants for a six game stint last season, catching seven passes for 54 yards in limited action, and the New Orleans Saints took a flier on him in late July. But the Saints have apparently already seen enough, with Nick Underhill of the New Orleans Advocate reporting Nicks has been released.
Nicks’ contract included no signing bonus, so the Saints have made a clean break with no financial implications. That probably played a role in the decision to let him go, but if Nicks showed anything on the practice field it’s safe to assume he would have been kept around.
The Saints have a lot of depth and youth at wide receiver, led by key contributors from 2015 Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead. Rookie Michael Thomas is now even more likely to have a prominent role this year, with holdover Brandon Coleman also in the mix. Nicks’ release opens the door to further competition for roster spots, and at first glance undrafted rookies Jordan Williams and Tommylee Lewis could benefit from increased opportunities.
At 28 years old, with a growing body of work that shows he has little or nothing left, Nicks’ NFL career seems to be over. But since it is still fairly early, with preseason openers coming later this week, Nicks could get a phone call from a team based on name recognition alone.