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Monday, March 10, 2014
Four things to help Panthers get Nicks

By David Newton

Now we know Hakeem Nicks' hometown Carolina Panthers are one of three teams the soon-to-be-former New York Giants wide receiver would be interested in playing for in 2014.

He said so Sunday in an interview with ESPN's Josina Anderson, listing Carolina, Indianapolis and San Diego as possible destinations in free agency, which begins Tuesday.

Hakeem Nicks
Hakeem Nicks caught 56 passes for 896 yards this past season.
"Ideally, this is what I want," Nicks told Anderson. "I want to go to a team where I'm the missing link. There are a number of teams now that I have my eye on once I hit the market. I know if I went to a place like Indianapolis I would be dangerous with a quarterback like Andrew Luck. I can see myself catching passes from Cam Newton or even Philip Rivers."

Nicks, contrary to a report on Saturday, also said he wants a long-term deal.

What he didn't say is how he could make a deal work with the salary-cap-strapped Panthers, assuming they want Nicks.

You would have to assume there is interest, considering general manager Dave Gettleman was with the Giants prior to last season and he's made it clear upgrading wide receiver is a priority.

Here are four things that could help:
The good news for Carolina is Nicks isn't coming off 1,000-yard receiving seasons such as he had in 2010 and 2011. He had 56 catches for 896 yards and no touchdowns last season and 53 catches for 692 yards and three touchdowns the year before. Smith can put up those numbers in his sleep. He had 64 catches for 745 yards and four touchdowns last season despite missing the regular-season finale with a knee injury.

Although reportedly good to go, past knee and ankle injuries also could keep Nicks' salary down. Perhaps he would be willing to take a low number for the first year loaded with incentives based on performance.

We don't really know. All we know is that Carolina is one of the teams Nicks would like to join, and the Panthers desperately need help at wide receiver.