NFL Rumors: Where Will Eric Decker Play in 2017?
Eric Decker is the latest established veteran to feel the wrath of the New York Jets’ offseason roster purge. The 30-year-old wide receiver is still technically on the Jets’ roster, but the team informed him that he will be released if they cannot find a trade partner.
In his seven NFL seasons, Decker has hauled in 385 passes for 5,253 yards and 52 touchdowns. The former Minnesota Golden Gopher is coming off hip and shoulder injuries that limited him to three games in 2016. But he has every intention of continuing his career in 2017. While he may no longer be a high-impact player, Decker still has enough gas left in his tank to put up solid numbers in the right situation.
Now that Decker is officially available, here is a look at 10 potential landing spots for the 6-foot-3, 214-pounder.
1. Baltimore Ravens
As of today, the Baltimore Ravens appear to be the frontrunners to land Decker. They are one of the only known teams who have engaged in active trade talks with the Jets. And they’re still looking to fill the hole created by the retirement of Steve Smith Sr. When it comes down to it, Decker’s contract could ultimately keep any potential trade from coming to fruition. If Decker ends up hitting the open market, though, expect Baltimore to be one of the first teams he visits.
2. Tennessee Titans
This scenario makes sense on several levels. Not only do the Tennessee Titans need a productive veteran presence at wide receiver, but relocating to Nashville is something that would undoubtedly be enticing to Decker’s wife, Jessie James Decker, who is a country music singer and songwriter, as well as a reality TV star. That said, the Titans wouldn’t allow Decker to compete for a Super Bowl title any time in the immediate future.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs were forced to release Jeremy Maclin for salary cap purposes, which left them lacking an established veteran in their wide receiver room. Kansas City has said that they are comfortable with their up-and-coming group of wideouts. However, for the right price, Decker would make a lot of sense.
4. Chicago Bears
Despite their recent addition of Victor Cruz, the Bears still have a pressing need at wide receiver. This may not be the ideal situation for Decker at this point in his career (Chicago is facing a rebuilding project and possible quarterback controversy). However, it’s possible that he could go in and immediately become Chicago’s No. 1 option in the passing game. On top of that, he is familiar with head coach John Fox from their time together with the Denver Broncos.
5. Detroit Lions
This potential scenario is all about schematic fit. Lions’ offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter was on the Denver Broncos’ offensive staff during Decker’s two most productive NFL seasons (2012 and 2013). Cooter’s scheme in Detroit is similar to what the Broncos ran during Decker’s time in the Mile High City, and the Lions still need to find a big red-zone target for Matthew Stafford. Signing with the Detroit Lions would allow Decker to join a competitive team and still put up solid numbers.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers should be very attractive to Decker. They are legitimate Super Bowl contenders and have arguably the most explosive offense in the league with a future Hall of Fame quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger). They don’t exactly have a pressing need at wide receiver. However, if Decker is willing to take pay cut for the opportunity to win a lot of games and contribute in a high-octane offense, then the Steelers would be a great fit.
7. Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins were hit hard at the wide receiver position, losing both Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson to free agency this offseason. They did add Terrelle Pryor — who we believe is a rising star — as a free agent. And the team’s first-round pick in 2016, Josh Doctson, is set to return from injury. For as talented as Pryor and Doctson may be, the Skins could still use a proven veteran, such as Decker, to lead their inexperienced group of wideouts.
8. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams have been trying to address their needs at wide receiver for most of the last decade. Their desperation at the position led to them overpaying Robert Woods during free agency this offseason. Making a move to acquire Decker should be a no-brainer for Los Angeles. The 30-year-old would instantly become the best pure wide receiver on their roster, and could serve as a mentor to second-year quarterback Jared Goff. Additionally, relocating to LA would likely benefit the career of Decker’s wife, Jessie.
9. Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks are another potential landing spot that should be very attractive to Decker. They are among the top Super Bowl contenders in the league, and at 6-foot-3, 214-pounds, Decker could fill the role of possession wide receiver in Seattle’s offense. Expect the Seahawks to be a top contender for Decker’s services if he truly wants to win a Super Bowl title before he retires.
10. Carolina Panthers
Simply put: The Panthers haven’t done a good job of surrounding Cam Newton with game-changing wide receivers. Kelvin Benjamin shows promise, and tight end Greg Olsen is a perennial All-Pro candidate. But beyond that, few current Panthers strike fear into opposing secondaries. Adding Decker wouldn’t solve all of their issues, but he would give Newton another proven target in 2017.
Statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.