EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants today brought back an old friend and former No. 1 draft choice when they signed wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.
"This is home," Nicks said. "You know what they say, 'Let a dog roam, he'll find his way home.' They left the backdoor open for me."
Nicks, the 2009 first-round selection who played five years for the team, was the team's leading receiver in the 2010 regular season and 2011 postseason. He will take the roster spot vacated by his close friend Victor Cruz, who announced yesterday he will have season-ending calf surgery. Cruz, who did not play in a game this season, was placed on injured reserve.
"I'm happy to be here, happy to be back in the building," Nicks said. "I feel great, I feel hungry. I'm ready to get on that field and make some plays."
The 5-5 Giants have a bye this week and next play on Nov. 29 in Washington.
"It's not a bye week for me," said Nicks, who was meeting with assistant coaches to learn the offensive system installed by Ben McAdoo last year. "I've got to make sure I'm getting these plays down, so I can be ready to go come game time. It's just going to take some studying, hard work and determination. I've got plenty of that."
Nicks' most recent action was with Indianapolis Colts in 2014, when he played in all 19 regular-season and postseason games, starting six. It was the first time in his career he played in all 16 regular-season games. Nicks had 38 catches for 405 yards and four touchdowns in the regular season, and six receptions for 98 yards and a score in the playoffs. He caught a season-high nine passes for 72 yards at Dallas on Dec. 21, and three for 44 yards vs. the Giants on Nov. 3. Nicks caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Luck in the Colts' AFC Divisional Playoff victory in Denver.
He had several tryouts this year, including one with the Giants, but was not signed by any team until now.
"I told myself, 'Just be patient, man, there's a lot of football left,'" Nicks said. "I knew I could help a lot of teams. I knew once November, December football came around I was going to be getting a phone call. I wanted it to be from here and it happened like this. I'm just ecstatic and happy that I'm back in the building.
"This is where I really wanted to be. I would have settled and played wherever, but my heart was here. My heart has always been here, ever since I left. That's why I kept my place here. I feel like I'm just stepping right back into position."
In his five Giants seasons, Nicks played in 70 regular-season games with 59 starts and started all four games in the 2011 postseason. His five-year totals included 311 catches for 4,622 yards and 27 touchdowns. The 311 receptions and 4,622 yards are each the ninth-highest totals in Giants history. Nicks' 27 touchdown receptions place him in a five-way tie (with Chris Calloway, Ike Hilliard, Earnest Gray and Jeremy Shockey) for 11th place in team history.
Nicks has caught more passes (306) for more yards (4,538) from Eli Manning than any other receiver.
He also had 28 postseason receptions for 444 yards and four scores. The 28 catches place him third on the Giants' postseason list and he is second in both yards and touchdown catches.
Nicks was one of the Giants' best players in their 2011 playoff run, which culminated with a victory over New England in Super Bowl XLVI. He had six receptions for 115 yards, including touchdowns of four and 72 yards, in the NFC Wild Card Game vs. Atlanta on Jan. 8. The 72-yard touchdown is tied for the longest postseason play in Giants history. On Jan. 3, 1982, Scott Brunner threw a 72-yard pass to Earnest Gray. Nicks added seven receptions for 165 yards and two more touchdowns in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Green Bay a week later. The 165 yards were is the second-highest total by a Giants receiver in a postseason game; Bob Schnelker holds the record with 175 receiving yards at Baltimore on Dec. 27, 1959. Nicks' average of 23.57 yards per catch in Green Bay was the highest ever by a Giant with more than four receptions.
Nicks caught five passes for 55 yards in the NFC Championship Game at San Francisco, and had game-high totals of 10 receptions for 109 yards - both Giants Super Bowl records – in the 21-17 victory over New England in Super Bowl XLVI. On the game-winning drive, Nicks caught a 14-yard pass to give the Giants a first down at the Patriots' 18-yard line, and a four-yarder to the seven, setting up Ahmad Bradshaw's game-winning touchdown.
In his most recent Giants season in 2013, he started all 15 games in which he played, and caught 56 passes for 896 yards, but did not score a touchdown.
Now he's back to add to his totals and help the 5-5 Giants remain in first place in the NFC East. His first game will be in FedEx Field, where he has 16 career receptions – but no touchdowns.
"It can't get any better, man," he said. "I'm looking forward to it, I'm fired up about it. When you do something since you were 10 years old and there comes a time when you've got to sit for a while, you're not used it and that's something you have to overcome. I think just taking it all into consideration, being back here where I was drafted in 2009, being back home, this is the way it was supposed to be."
• The Giants made a couple other moves today, waiving linebacker James Morris from the 53-man roster and terminating the practice squad contract of wide receiver Julian Talley.
Morris was signed on Oct. 31 off the practice squad, where he had been since Sept. 15. He played on special teams in three games, but did not have any tackles.
Talley had rejoined the squad on Oct. 6. He played in two games for the Giants in both 2013 and 2014, but did not have a reception. He spent the majority of those seasons on the practice squad. This season, Talley was released off the squad on Sept. 30, and re-signed the following week.
Photos of WR Hakeem Nicks' career with the Giants