NFL Stock Down: Week 8


Every Monday during the season we will take a look back at three players who are entering important stages of their contract that may have hurt their stock in upcoming negotiations with their play on Sunday. In addition we will also look at one player signed in the offseason to a new contract that did not live up to the expectations that his contract sets for the player.

Stock Down

Hakeem Nicks– Nicks took a one year deal with the Indianapolis Colts to turn the perception around that he wasn’t worth big receiver money. It seemed like a great pairing since we all know Nicks has talent and the Colts system puts up great numbers, but Nicks has been a dud and the ship has sailed at being paid anywhere near a top end number 2, let alone number 1 receiver. Nicks produced just 1 reception despite being targeted 6 times this week.

Michael Vick– One would think Vick was using this season to hope to land one more starting job down the line, but in his second appearance of the year Vick continued to show many of the bad traits he showed in his final years in Philadelphia. Vick completed just 50% of his passes and turned the ball over three times in relief of Geno Smith. Vick should get his chance to start the rest of the season and he has to do better than this to prolong his career.

Jordan Cameron– Cameron had his breakout game a few weeks ago and then proceeded to go back to looking like just another guy again. Cameron has a chance to cash in as a potential difference maker at the position, but he needs to do more than a few catches and not being very useful as a blocker when used on the line.


New Contract Disappointment Of The Week

Lamarr Houston– The biggest risk in free agency is how a player will react once they get paid big money and in the case of the Bears and Houston it looks like they grabbed the guy who stopped playing with the contract. The Bears defense has been a joke all season and nothing was more of a joke than Houston getting injured while celebrating a sack down by a billion points.  Houston has made no impact this season- that sack was just his first and he has only 11 tackles on the year. In his contract year he produced 69 tackles and 6 sacks.


Is Hakeem Nicks’ Value Really Falling?


There has been a lot of discussion lately regarding Hakeem Nicks and his level of play in a contract year. Having watched most of his games this season I can understand the negative feelings towards Nicks. He has clearly fallen out of favor with Eli Manning following the emergence of Victor Cruz in 2011 and has become just another secondary target. At times Nicks doesn’t look like he is concentrating leading to what seems to be a large number of drops.  But at the end of the day does it really matter?

Nicks, by pretty much all accounts, wanted a new contract this offseason. The Giants at one point made it known that Nicks was more valuable that Cruz, which likely only added more reasons to seek a new deal now. The Giants, who really had limited cap space to work with, preferred to let Nicks play out the contract. Nicks was unhappy and maybe that has carried over to the field. But it’s not like he is the first to do this.

Mike Wallace, now of the Miami Dolphins, sulked through his final year in a Steelers uniform. Wallace was a Restricted Free Agent who had no choice but to play on his tender. Like Nicks, Wallace watched a teammate be signed to a contract extension while this occurred. DeSean Jackson of the Eagles had hoped for a new contract in 2011. It never happened and he was unhappy throughout the 2011 season. He did get a new contract in 2012 with the Eagles.

When you look at some of the big name contracts given out to Wide Receivers in the last two years there has been minimal importance given to the “down season”  leading into the new contract. The players I want to look at here are Jackson, Wallace, and Dwayne Bowe. I considered Greg Jennings, but his injury plagued season was so bad I thought that it was unfair to include him.

The following table will include the percentage increase/decrease in a number of key categories from the players “contract season” to  the two year prime season. For Nicks we’ll be using the 2010 and 2011 season as he struggled with injuries in 2012. The categories are target per game, yards per game, yards per target, yards per receptions, and catch rates. All raw data used to compile this figures is courtesy Pro Football Focus






Catch Rate

























In terms of yards per target and yards per reception Nicks numbers are actually better than where he was back in 2010 and 2011 when he looked like a can’t miss player. Each of the other players saw dramatic dips in their contract seasons. On a per game basis  Nicks is right alongside Bowe and Jackson and significantly ahead of Wallace, who crashed on the Steelers.  His reception rate decline is the worst of the group, however, and his targets were way down.

The real important takeaway for a player like Nicks, who used to be a dominant target in the passing game, is that all he has to do is convince one team that the Giants are not featuring him for reasons unknown to him and that it has nothing to do with his play. If he was featured the way he was in the past his numbers would be right on  his career averages, which is more than the other three could say at contract time.

The alarming items for Nicks come from two areas. One is drops. Like I said above his drops seem terrible and the stats completely back that up. His fall in that category is unique compared to the others.
















Nicks is essentially dropping double the amount of passes he did in the past. That should be a red flag to an organization about how distracted he can be once taken out of an offense and a clear indication of a reason why he is not being featured as much in the offense. Nicks does have an injured finger and I am sure they will argue that these numbers are so far above his averages that they are a byproduct of injury, but it would be the one major concern.

The other concern is that you do have to go back, because of injury, two years to hit Nicks’ prime seasons when Eli Manning treated him as a number 1 receiver in an offense. I’m not sure how much weight teams will put on that but it could potentially be an issue.

Again though, all it takes is one team to bite. The Eagles eventually paid Jackson $9.7 million a season, at the time one of the more lucrative contracts at the position. Bowe became the highest receiver not named Calvin or Larry for a few weeks this season before Wallace jumped him with his $12 million a year contract. Whether they are worth it or not is a different debate (Bowe and Wallace are struggling and Jackson is hoping to avoid a re-done contract in 2014), but the seeming lack of production is not something that should compromise his ability to earn a new contract, provided his finishes the year on the same pace. If he can bring his drops down there is little to really point to about his decline.

In some ways it may be better for Nicks to remain on the Giants for the remainder of the season. If he gets traded and fails to perform that could have an impact on him, much more than what is occurring in New York. While I think many positions are capable of transferring offenses in-season I don’t believe wide receiver is one of them. It takes chemistry with your QB to be a top level producer. For whatever reason he doesn’t have that with Eli, but I would think he would have far more chemistry with Eli than with a QB he has never played with before.

Years ago when the Dallas Cowboys traded for Roy Williams of the Lions, Williams was someone with 1,000+ yard talent and an injury history. He was struggling in his contract year and the Cowboys gave up a significant set of draft picks to bring him on the team before the trade deadline. He went from bad to worse in Dallas averaging under 20 yards a game as he struggled to learn the offense. Luckily for Williams, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones blindly gave him a $54 million dollar contract before he ever played a down for Dallas. Had Williams played the season out and failed with the Lions and Cowboys I think his options would have been more limited since you can make an excuse for not being used on one team, but once you get to two teams it starts to look more troublesome.

So if a team is able to pry Nicks away for a minimal haul and fails to extend him then I think his price tag could be damaged. If he keeps doing what he is doing he will have all offseason to convince a number of teams that this one situation was poor in New York and if given the opportunity he’ll be every bit the number 1 receiver most projected him as two years ago.


Nicks, Britt, and Gordon- Should they be Traded?


With trade rumors swirling in the NFL, I thought it would make sense to look at three of the big names mentioned at Wide Receiver and the reasons why the teams might or might not pull the trigger on trading their players.  The big names in question are the Giants’ Hakeem Nicks, Browns’ Josh Gordon, and Titans’ Kenny Britt. All three would seem to be on the block for various reasons and we’ll try to look at some comparables to determine what the players may gain in a trade.

Kenny Britt

Of the three names Britt is likely the least appealing. Britt is a former 1st round draft pick whose best seasons came in 2009 and 2010 when he looked poised to break out as one of the next great receivers in the game. Britt suffered a serious knee injury in 2011 that seemed to de-rail his career. Prior to his injury Britt averaged 17.5 YPC and was looked to be at a minimum a 55 catch/900 yard type player. Since then his numbers have plummeted to under 13 YPC and he has basically been benched by the Titans for general ineffectiveness. Britt’s off the field problems are well documented and I think there are some who question whether Britt is simply not recovered from injury or just unhappy in Tennessee.

Britt will be a free agent in 2014 and there is no chance that the Titans would designate him a franchise player. For Tennessee they first need to weigh what they would receive in draft compensation in 2015 if they let him walk next season. I don’t believe it would be much anything because there are so many questions surrounding him that it would seem hard to imagine a team signing him to anything more than a two year low base value but incentive laden contract.

There are rumors that the Titans are looking for at least a 3rd round pick for Britt. That number is insane and I’m not sure what justification there would be to that price tag other than management preferring to have him suffer through the rest of the year on the bench. The best high end comparison I could come up with for Britt was Santonio Holmes. Holmes was 26 years old when traded to the New York Jets prior to the 2010 NFL draft. Holmes was in the final year of his deal and had well documented off the field issues. He has just finished a season in which he went off for more than 1200 yards and was two seasons removed from being named Super Bowl MVP. Holmes only fetched a 5th round pick.

Another possible player to look at would be Ted Ginn, Jr, who was just 25 when he was traded from Miami to San Francisco. Ginn’s productivity was nowhere near that of Holmes and like Britt had seemingly regressed, though he was never at as high of a level as Britt. Ginn did not have the off the field issues and also had tremendous value as a kick returner. Ginn also only cost a 5th round pick and was set to enter free agency one year following the trade.

The final possible look would be Davone Bess. Bess was a bit older than Britt and never had the upside or cache of Britt, but maybe one could make an argument that a motivated post-injury Britt could be productive as a shorter field threat capable of gaining maybe 500-650 low impact yards a season. The trade for Bess amounted to a 5th rounder in return for Bess and a 7th. Bess was set to be a free agent when traded.

At the most the Titans could expect to receive a 5th round pick for Britt and even that could be pushing it due to his lack of use this season. He was never as good as Holmes and may not be as varied a threat as Ginn especially post-injury. My gut feeling is that they should be happy with receiving a 5th for him and giving up a 7th in return, similar to the Bess trade. Even a 6th rounder might be worth doing. I don’t see the compensatory pick being very large in this case, if it happens at all. It seems to be a trade that should happen if anyone is really interested.

Josh Gordon

Gordon is a very interesting prospect because he still has two years remaining on his rookie contract and will thus be an extremely low cost option for a team that acquires him. As a rookie Gordon had over 800 yards and this season would be on pace for 1700 yards if he played 16 games. So the upside with Gordon is tremendous. So why are the Browns looking to trade him?

In this case I think this is the Browns trying to strike before the clock strikes 12. Gordon has had many drug issues in the past and is one strike away from being out of the NFL for a full year. I doubt the Browns trust him to stay clean and he missed two games for a failed test this season. If he was to slip up again next year he goes from high value to no value.

The Browns are said to be seeking a first round pick for Gordon. It is pretty much impossible to find a comparable player because players this young never get traded.  In terms of off the field trouble Holmes would be a comparison, but contractually they were in very different spots. Godson would give a team 2 ½ low cost years while Holmes was only going to give one.

That said the only receivers in the last few years to get a 1st round pick in return were Percy Harvin and Roy Williams, both of whom were entering their contract years and received extensions following the trade. Williams was a colossal bust and Harvin has yet to play a game for Minnesota. Prior to that would be Deion Branch in 2006 and Randy Moss in 2005. Considering Gordon’s history I think a first rounder would be out of reach, though a 2nd rounder from a playoff contender could be in play.  Even a second, though, could be high. Brandon Marshall is the only recent trade (the one that sent him from Denver to Miami) to include a 2nd round pick. Beyond Marshall the only other trade I can recall is the 2007 in-season trade of Chris Chambers from the Dolphins to the Chargers.

Whatever decision is made with Gordon will take a great deal of guts on both sides. If the Browns think he can be clean then they should hold on to him. If they feel he is going to fail another drug test they should take a 2nd or 3rd for him.

Hakeem Nicks

Of the three names Nicks is the most intriguing. Nicks has had monster years in the past and has been treated as a true number 1 target. But injuries in 2012 seemed to move him to second fiddle behind Victor Cruz and it’s clear that he never regained his chemistry with QB Eli Manning. Nicks is on pace for nearly 1200 yards this year but it seems like a quiet 1,200 yards as he has battled drops and gaining the attention of his QB. Some seem to perceive a rift between Nicks and Manning that most will blame on Nicks going through the motions and not putting in the work.

Nicks is in the final year of his contract, but unlike Britt is going to be a Franchise player. I get the feeling that Nicks is not too thrilled to stay with the Giants but he is going to get that tag which will allow the Giants to control his rights for next season as well. While nobody expects the young wideout to really sign a contract with another team as a Franchise player it does set a bar even now as to his worth. The other two teams can dream and ask for whatever they want but the Giants are the only team that can truly block Nicks with the price they want.

I tend to think the rumors of the Giants being open to offers for Nicks is more of a fishing expedition to hear what he is worth to teams next season. They could just be setting the groundwork for a trade next year rather than this one. Provided the Giants don’t go wild in free agency next year, which they likely won’t, at worst he is worth a compensatory 3. So they are the one team that can really set parameters of a 1 all the way down to a 3 and have reasons behind those parameters.

Finding the trade value for Nicks is difficult because the results are so varied. Nicks is a much more proven player than Harvin and the Seahawks gave up a fortune for him in both draft picks and money. Harvin is also injury prone. Going back to the Williams trade in 2008 the situations could be looked at as similar. Williams often had lingering injury issues, but he had shown tremendous talent when healthy. Dallas gave up a first rounder and other mid round picks to get the job done. I would think both would be the Giants ideal scenarios.

Other teams could use the Braylon Edwards in season Browns to Jets trade as some type of lowball offer. Edwards was an extremely high draft selection who never really lived up to expectations in Cleveland and had fallen out of favor with the new coaching staff. Edwards still was somewhat productive and the Jets traded a 3 and a 5 along with some spare piece players in order to acquire Edwards from the Browns. Edwards was in the final year of his contract at the time of the trade. Other deals involving third round picks include Marshall from Miami to Chicago and Anquan Boldin from Arizona to Baltimore. Both players were in different stages of their carriers than Nicks

Nicks has been t he better pro than Edwards and remains more productive even now. Edwards was almost like a firesale trade because he clashed with the coach. The least the Giants should settle for is the two second round picks that the Dolphins gave for Marshall in 2010. Marshall also signed an extension almost immediately upon being traded. Teams could make the deal at a 2 and a conditional 3, with the 3 becoming a 2 if Nicks is re-signed.

The Giants clearly have options here and with the Franchise power probably do not have any reason to trade him this year. Unless he gets injured his value should remain the same and teams have shown a willingness to spend on the position. The only reason to trade him now would be because they want to make certain they have additional draft selections in the 2014 draft, which may not occur if they have him on the tag.

If it was me I would not trade him, but Franchise him instead and let him more or less seek out his own trade next year. If they do that early enough they should grab two picks over the next two drafts. It allows the Giants to keep up a mirage that they think this season means something and probably will not compromise their position in the long run.


Stock Down: Week 4


Every Monday during the season we will take a look back at three players who are entering important stages of their contract that may have hurt their stock in upcoming negotiations with their play on Sunday. In addition we will also look at one player signed in the offseason to a new contract that did not live up to the expectations that his contract sets for the player.

Stock Down

Hakeem Nicks– Nicks complained to some extent last week about his lack of getting the ball thrown his way, but this week the ball went his way and too often fell off his fingertips. Nicks, who after 2011 was poised to be a top paid WR, has struggled for the last two years. He hadn’t really made the kind of impact the team was expecting and against Kansas City he was a major disappointment. Nicks finished the day with 33 yards, which was 33 yards more than the week before, and had multiple passes that he could have hauled in end up on the ground. Early in the game he dropped a deep sideline pass and immediately began looking for a flag. Luckily for him there was one, except on the Giants which called the play back, making his drop easily forgotten. Later in the game he again was there down the sideline and he attempted a one handed grab for a reason only he could answer as he easily could have gotten a second hand under it. Two years of struggling on a team with another receiver doing well may prove difficult when he hits free agency looking to be paid like Mike Wallace. Like the Giants he needs to turn the season around.

Andy Dalton– Entering his third season in the league, Dalton was supposed to take the leap and establish himself as a bonafide top level starter in the NFL. He’s had the near perfect situation with a defense that is considered among the top 5 in the game, a solid offensive line, and playmakers in the passing game to make a playoff run that likely would lead to a lucrative contract extension after the season from the surprisingly high spending Bengals. Instead Dalton has been underewhelming and on Sunday was outplayed by a player most considered a  journeyman backup. Dalton is going to be perceived similar to Josh Freeman in that he is highly dependent on one receiver and if that receiver was removed from the game his stats would fall to far below average territory. The Browns did a decent job of taking that receiver, AJ Green, out of the mix and Dalton struggled badly. More games like this and the extension talk is going to turn to “finding another QB before we waste the talent” talk very quickly

Maurice Jones-Drew– MJD has been here before and let’s face facts its over for him. Maybe he will find a home somewhere next season and have a surprising one year wonder resurgence like Jamal Lewis did with the Browns in 2007, but his ability to command big dollars is pretty much gone. Jones-Drew has yet to break 50 yards this season and this weeks’ 1.8 yards per carry is a season low, topping last weeks’ 2.26 YPC disaster.  There was a time in his career when he could have at least made a team like the Jaguars with no viable QB at least look like a professional team, but now he just looks like the rest of the Jaguars. At this rate MJD may find it hard to even find a team to try him out next season.

New Contract Disappointment Of The Week 

Matt Flynn– I could have easily gone with Joe Flacco this week after his 5 interception outing versus the Browns, but I chose Flynn instead. Flynn went up against one of the worst defenses in the NFL and did nothing. Flynn led the team to just 7 offensive points, but returned the favor with a pick 6 to give the Redskins life. He was sacked 7 times and fumbled once. The Raiders traded for Flynn this offseason assuming he would be a holdover starter for one to two seasons while they rebuilt the organization. The Raiders were the second team to learn that there is no upside to Flynn and benched him before being forced to start him this week due to injury to their actual starter. This was Flynn’s opportunity to prove everyone wrong and he failed badly. Flynn has just become another in a long line of failed backup QBs that should all have a buyer beware sticker around their neck at this point.

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Contract Year Series, Hakeem Nicks


Hakeem Nicks #88 WR, New York Giants

by Paul Carrozzo

When analyzing contract possibilities, we must remember that there is an ultimate bottom line to war that is waged between the player and the franchise that presently employs him. The franchise stands to benefit from the player’s heightened urgency through increased production on the field that given year. The player’s motivations are aligned with the organization as a good year means a bigger payday. Many times we see a team over pay for past performances similar to Joe Flacco’s blockbuster deal signed after he brought the Ravens a Super Bowl. “Past performance is no guarantee of future results” is the disclaimer on almost every investment prospectus. You would think that the men that own $1B+ franchises would be well versed in the concept and hence heed the warning. Or maybe the exact reason they are billionaires is because they have thrown caution to the wind in prior endeavors.

Hakeem Nicks came to the Giants as the 29th pick of the 2009 draft. The 6’1″ 210 lbs Nicks plays bigger than his frame would suggest. He has been a target of criticism for is inability to stay on the field, but can be dominant when in games. The Giants recently committed $46mm to another of their receivers, Victor Cruz, which will only increase the scrutiny from the New York media. Rueben Randle is an electrifying deep threat that will also be pushing Nicks for targets. When healthy, Giants quarterback, Eli Manning, likes to exploit the mismatches that Nicks creates on the outside.

Competing for WR free agent money in the offseason will be Kenny Britt of the Tennessee Titans and Jeremy Maclin of the Philadelphia Eagles. If Nicks can put up a full season of solid production I can see him in the getting paid as a Top 10 WR. If the Giants choose to franchise him after the season, he will cost $11mm for one year. Even if he has a terrible season, given his age and talent, he will command a minimum of $6mm APY.

Estimated New Contract: 5 years, $47.5mm