There's this sort of big event going on in Indianapolis this week, something they call the Super Bowl. I don't know, some annual event where they crown the best of the best of the National Football League teams. Anyway, sometimes players from teams not in the contest still arrive to enjoy the festivities for the final event of the league year, and one of those participants happens to be free agent offensive guard Carl Nicks of the New Orleans Saints.
Cowboys fans here on BTB know Nicks well; he is the prime offensive line target in the free agent sea; securing stable waters for All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees to tread in for the last few years. Nicks is only 26, with plenty of skill and accolade. He's a two-time pro-bowler and made First Team All-Pro this past season. And according to this interview he did for the New Orleans Times-Picayune... he knows that it's worth a lot (h/t to Jimmy of SBN's Music City Miracles).
Nicks, who was sitting across a table from fellow Saints guard Jahri Evans, joked about how Evans' seven-year, $56.7 million contract in 2010 helped set the market. At the time, that was the richest deal given to an interior lineman, but Nicks said, "It's been what, two years? You've got to add inflation. I'm not a businessman, but I know what inflation means."
Then Nicks smiled and said, "I just want what's fair."
As you know, the Cowboys have around $20 million of salary cap space should they choose to do a little cap management magic this offseason. Nicks is a favorite amongst Cowboys fans, considering how weak the interior of our line was in protecting Tony Romo this past season. Kyle Kosier is old, Bill Nagy and David Arkin are young and Derrick Dockery and Montrae Holland are free agents; although Holland played admirably once he was resigned by the team.
Earlier, Tom Ryle did an excellent post on the Cowboys free agency possibilities at some of the key positions. Whether you agree with spending a big whop on one player or not, there is no denying that Nicks has earned his reputation.
Nicks has played in 69 games over the last four years, including playoffs. Pro Football Focus has only given him a negative, red grade for eight of those games.
|Season||PFF Cmlt. Grd. (pos. rank)||PFR Approx. Value|
By comparison, Montrae Holland was Dallas' top guard in '11, scoring a cumulative grade of 5.9. Kyle Kosier was 46th with a grade of -6.0. To say Dallas could use an upgrade is shooting for understatement of the year.
For what it's worth, Nicks seems to acknowledge that the Saints might not be interested in paying him what he is looking for.
"They never talked to me at all about it really (last season), which I thought was kind of weird. But I talked to (General Manager Mickey Loomis) the last day before exit meetings, and he said they were going to do their best to try to keep me. So that's the gist of contract talks," said Nicks, who is expected to command a salary of more than $8 million per year as one of the NFL's marquee free agents.
"I would love to stay, but it's also a good feeling to be wanted. So hopefully a lot of teams want me, but I would love to stay,"
In 2007, Dallas gave out it's only recent huge contract to an offensive lineman, when it signed free agent Leonard Davis to a seven-year $49.6 million deal. At the time, the front office preached of his ability to also play the outside, although they wanted him at guard. Davis never lined up at tackle and never reached the end of that contract; released by the Cowboys before the 2011 season started. He was 28 at the time he signed his Dallas contract, two years older than Nicks is now.
A lot of fans are having wet dreams over draft-eligible players who I am seriously doubting will even be available by the time Dallas is on the clock. While there is no guarantee that Nicks wants to play in Dallas, there is always the Bill Callahan connection; his former head coach while at the University of Nebraska. Is it time for them to open up the checkbook for Nicks?