Broncos receiver Eric Decker will hit the free agent market, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Broncos view the 26-year-old receiver as a number two wideout, rather than a true number one option. Rapoport also indicates that the Broncos would like Decker to give them a chance to match the best offer he receives, but there are no guarantees that will happen (Twitter link).
The Broncos have many looming contract concerns, as running back Knowshon Moreno and guard Zane Beadles join Decker as free agents on offense, and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and defensive end Shaun Phillips are free agents on the defensive side. Perhaps most importantly, star receiver Demaryius Thomas will be a free agent following the 2014 season. With an offense lead by Peyton Manning and complemented by Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, and Wes Welker, perhaps the Broncos feel they can lose Decker and still remain an elite offensive unit.
Though the Broncos may view Decker as a secondary receiver, other teams may view him as a number one option, as Brian McIntyre notes on Twitter. Decker’s numbers certainly support this notion, at least with Manning as his quarterback. Over the past two seasons, Decker has averaged 86 receptions for 1,176 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he rated fourth in DYAR for the 2013 season.
The receiver market looks to be relatively barren, and Decker will be the clear top choice available, ahead of players like Julian Edelman, Hakeem Nicks, and Anquan Boldin. With this leverage, Decker will look to match or exceed recent contracts handed out to similar receivers. Dwayne Bowe and Mike Wallace, each older than Decker, received $20MM and $27MM guaranteed, respectively, on five-year deals.