- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Our Indianapolis Colts team reporter, Mike Wells, is busy these days helping out with NBA coverage. But he did recently have a conversation with Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw about Colts wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, and Mike was kind enough to pass along what the one former New York Giants player said about the other.
The Giants let Nicks walk in free agency after an extremely disappointing season in which Nicks didn't catch a touchdown pass and his effort was questioned by the coaching staff. He signed with Indianapolis, where Bradshaw signed last year after the Giants released him. Bradshaw seems to think that Nicks' situation and his are similar, and emblematic of a perpetual desire by the Giants to churn their roster.
"I know how it is over there. How they work," Bradshaw told Mike. "It gets bad as you get more years in the league with Giants. You get the younger guys coming in. They visualize, and with me, they visualize me leaving and David Wilson coming in and being that guy. Andre Brown being that guy, and they had those two guys. They were like, 'Leave that money alone. Let him go, take care of the little guys.' That's how this league is becoming. As the year was going when I was with the Giants, my coach was like, 'They're just talking about younger, faster, healthy.' Nowadays these younger guys aren't as healthy. They come in and have some different stuff."
Bradshaw never could seem to stay healthy while with the Giants, and they cut him for money reasons and because they didn't feel they could count on him to stay on the field. (He played only three games for the Colts last year due to a neck injury.) They'd drafted Wilson in the first round in 2012 and were ready to roll with Wilson and Brown at running back in 2013, and Bradshaw had failed to seize the opportunity in 2012 to be the full-time starter.
Nicks' case is a bit different, as he was ostensibly healthy in 2013 but seemed to focus on staying healthy at the expense of being productive. The Giants went into last year hoping to re-sign Nicks, but by the end of the season they'd decided to move on. Bradshaw seems to think they did Nicks wrong.
"I've been there," Bradshaw said. "They try to make you feel like you're a cancer to the team. Different things. It's really they want to try to get the younger guys experience and sit you down. Not that you've done anything wrong. I've been there and I know where he comes from. He's telling me, 'They said I was cancer there.' I know how it was cause I was there. I've been through that."
For the record, I never heard anyone with the Giants claim that Nicks was a "cancer." Even through his struggles, he remained a solid presence in the locker room and didn't make waves off the field. The coaching staff was frustrated because it couldn't find any way of getting him to play better, and it felt it tried everything. The Giants' preference would have been for Nicks to have a good year, and they'd have tried to re-sign him. But that didn't happen, and they didn't. As was the case with Bradshaw, Nicks had a chance to convince the Giants to keep him around. He just didn't take advantage of it.
22hDan Graziano and Adam Caplan