Eric Decker

Patriots WR Eric Decker To Retire

Patriots wide receiver Eric Decker today announced his intention to retire from the NFL, according to a post from his Instagram account.

“It has been my childhood dream and my passion to play the game of football,” reads Decker’s statement, in part. “I was very fortunate and blessed to have had the opportunity to have those dreams fulfilled and to have played with such extremely talented and hard-working teammates, coaches and staff. This has been a passion inside of me since I was a little boy but I know now this is time to hang my helmet up and start a new chapter in my life.”

Decker, 31, inked a one-year, $1.5MM deal with New England earlier this month, but he’d been facing an uphill battle to earn a spot on the Patriots’ 53-man roster. New England, which released fellow pass-catcher Kenny Britt earlier this week, is now down to Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson, among others, as it waits for Julian Edelman to return from a four-game suspension.

A third-round pick in 2010, Decker became a starting receiver for the Broncos in 2011, but his career took off the following season when Denver added Peyton Manning under center. Decker averaged 86 receptions, 1,176 yards, and 12 touchdowns per year with Manning, and subsequently inked a five-year, $36.25MM pact with the Jets.

Decker was excellent through two seasons in New York, but injuries limited him to three games in 2016 and led to his release. A one-year accord with the Titans followed, and Decker posted 54 catches, 563 yards, and one score in what will become his final NFL action.

Interestingly, Decker’s name had recently appeared in trade talks, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. Decker had reportedly been struggling with the Patriots, so it’s unclear what kind of market may have existed for the veteran receiver.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: Decker, Gordon, DRC, Broncos

At this summer’s outset, the Patriots‘ receiving corps looked like it could feature plenty of depth. Kenny Britt, Jordan Matthews and Malcolm Mitchell were competing for spots for a team whose top receiver is a 32-year-old slot man coming off a season-erasing injury. But the Julian Edelman-fronted group has experienced some turnover, with that aforementioned trio no longer in the picture. New England brought in another veteran, Eric Decker, recently. The Pats would be the 31-year-old receiver’s fourth NFL team, but he’s not a lock to make the 53-man roster, Andy Hart of Patriots.com writes. Decker does not seem comfortable in the Pats’ offense, Hart adds. If Decker cannot make the Patriots, the supporting cast behind Edelman and Chris Hogan won’t be a slew of seasoned wideouts. Underwhelming ex-first-rounder Phillip Dorsett remains in contention, and kick-return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson looks like a roster lock. Special-teamer Matthew Slater and would-be rookies Braxton Berrios and Riley McCarron round out one of the more interesting groups of the Tom Brady era.

Here’s the latest out of the AFC, shifting to a more famous wide receiver.

  • Josh Gordon‘s back on the Browns‘ active roster after yet another stint away from the team. The Browns are preparing their mercurial weapon to play in Week 1, but he’ll likely miss Thursday’s preseason finale due to hamstring discomfort, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com tweets. Gordon looks to be in the clear as far as another NFL suspension goes, when it was once thought the league could discipline him for his camp absence because of the extensive substance abuse in the seventh-year receiver’s past. But Cabot reports the Browns are working alongside the NFL and Gordon’s medical team to bring him back to work. She adds (via Twitter) the NFL’s cleared Gordon and it will be up to the Browns to determine his participation going forward.
  • Jon Gruden‘s last Raiders team had a deep cast of 30-somethings. This collection doesn’t bring the notoriety the Tim Brown-, Jerry Rice– and Rich Gannon-led operation did, but Gruden’s assembled a unique crew of veterans this offseason. Now that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie‘s on the team, the Raiders have signed 11 players north of 30 just this year. As for why the 32-year-old cornerback is in Oakland after a lengthy stay in free agency, it appears to be because of injuries. “We have had a number of corners go down, and we need somebody to come in here and make a play,” Gruden said, via Vic Tafur of The Athletic (on Twitter). “With his history in this league, he has a lot of clout. … We are hoping we can rejuvenate him. … He can play.”
  • Shamarko Thomas has enjoyed an eventful preseason. The latest notable event involving the veteran safety proved to be a scary sequence. The recently signed Broncos defender spent the night in a Washington D.C.-area hospital for a possible detached retina, Mike Klis of 9News reports (via Twitter). Thomas is now back in Denver, per Klis (on Twitter). The precise damage to Thomas’ eye remains uncertain. This comes two weeks after Thomas became the first player ejected from a game under the NFL’s new helmet rule. The Colts then released him shortly after. He’s battling for a backup job in Denver.

AFC East Notes: Pats, Decker, Bills, Fins, Jets

The Patriots signed veteran wideout Eric Decker to a one-year deal last week, but New England actually had its eyes on Decker as early as the 2010 draft, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com explains. Decker was “squarely in [the Patriots’] sights” at pick No. 90 in that draft, but the Minnesota product ended up going off the board three picks earlier to the Broncos, who at that time were lead by now-New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. After recording 54 receptions for 563 yards a season ago, Decker has effectively replaced Jordan Matthews as the Patriots’ slot receiver, at least until Julian Edelman returns from suspension. Decker received only $75K in guaranteed money, however, so he’s far from a roster lock in New England.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Bills receiver Zay Jones has been activated off the active/non-football injury list, but was wearing a red contact jersey during his first day back at practice, tweets Joe Buscaglia of WKBW. Jones underwent knee surgery in May and missed Buffalo’s offseason program, but the club has expressed hope that Jones — who was selected in the second round of the 2017 draft — will be ready for the regular season. After an offseason which included not only an operation but a bizarre arrest, the Bills have been adamant that Jones won’t be handed a starting spot. Buffalo’s wideout depth chart is among the worst in the league, though, so it will be surprising if Jones isn’t lining up opposite Kelvin Benjamin as the Bills’ No. 2 pass-catcher.
  • After being traded from the Saints to the Dolphins last season, linebacker Stephone Anthony appears set to open the 2018 campaign as a starting outside linebacker, Andre Fernandez of the Miami Herald writes. Anthony has disappointed in four NFL seasons after being chosen as a first-round pick, and the Dolphins subsequently declined his fifth-year option for the 2019 season. That would have paid Anthony nearly $10MM next year, but as Fernandez details, Miami could conceivably extend Anthony if he succeeds this season.
  • Veteran Thomas Rawls is now a legitimate candidate for the Jets‘ third running back job after Elijah McGuire suffered a broken foot, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post. McGuire is expected to be sidelined for three-to-six weeks, so Rawls is now competing with Trenton Cannon and George Atkinson for the right to play behind Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell. Rawls, of course, was a revelation in limited duty during the 2015 season, averaging 5.6 yards per carry on 147 rushes. In the years since, however, Rawls has been beset by injuries, and wasn’t tendered as a Seahawks restricted free agent earlier this year.
  • The Jets recently expanded their analytics department by hiring former scout Brian Shields as a senior manager of football research, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. That’s a new role within the New York front office, per Cimini, who indicates general manager Mike Maccagnan is becoming more open to the use of analytics in the NFL.

Extra Points: Patriots, 49ers, Raiders, Jets

Although Eric Decker‘s one-year contract with the Patriots has a base value of $1.9MM, the veteran wideout received only $75K in guaranteed money, all in the form of signing bonus, tweets Field Yates of ESPN.com. Decker can earn $2.1MM in total by maxing out bonuses and incentives, but New England won’t have a financial reason not cut him at the end of camp. However, Decker could prove valuable on a Patriots’ depth chart that is not only down Julian Edelman (suspension) for four games, but just lost Jordan Matthews via release. Decker, 31, posted 54 receptions for 563 yards and one touchdown during his lone season with the Titans in 2017.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • The 49ers are exhibiting “growing concern” about guard Joshua Garnett‘s right knee injury, per a report from the Associated Press. Garnett, a first-round pick in the 2016 draft, missed the entire 2017 campaign after having surgery on the same knee, so the issue is doubly concerning. After Garnett reportedly banged knees with a teammate in late July, he was expected to return to practice this week, but his presence has been delayed. Garnett is competing for time at right guard — the only open spot on San Francisco’s offensive line — with Jonathan Cooper and Michael Person.
  • After being arrested in April as a member of the Eagles, now Raiders cornerback Daryl Worley plead guilty in to DUI, carrying firearms in public, and resisting arrest, reports Vic Tafur of the Athletic (Twitter link). Worley was sentenced to three days in jail and two years of probation, and his legal issues are now resolved. As such, Worley could be forced to serve a suspension during the 2018 season, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Worley was traded to Philadelphia in exchange for wide receiver Torrey Smith earlier this year, but the Eagles cut him the day he was arrested.
  • Speaking of legal problems, Jets linebacker Dylan Donahue plead guilty to a Montana DUI charge earlier this week, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Donahue was sentenced to three months in jail, but that punishment was suspended upon payment of $1K fine. The second-year defender also plead guilty to a DWI charge in New York earlier this year. Donahue, who rarely played during his rookie campaign, will likely face a NFL-imposed suspension this year.
  • The Bears worked out free agent interior offensive lineman Alex Officer, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Officer went undrafted out of Pittsburgh earlier this year but landed a deal with the Raiders in May. He was waived just two weeks into his Oakland tenure, and has been sitting on the open market since. Per Wilson, Officer conducted a solid workout, but Chicago isn’t aiming to sign him immediately.

WR Notes: Diggs, Decker, Doctson, Broncos

The Vikings now have three of their four major offseason extension candidates signed long-term, with Anthony Barr being the only member of the contract-year quartet (Barr/Stefon Diggs/Eric Kendricks/Danielle Hunter) still attached to a rookie contract. Diggs was the latest to sign, and some details of that five-year, $72MM extension have emerged. Of the $40MM in guarantees, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (on Twitter) that only Diggs’ $15MM signing bonus and $1.9MM 2018 base salary are fully guaranteed at signing. The remainder of the wide receiver’s guaranteed money will depend on his roster status.

If Diggs is on the Vikings’ roster by the third day of the 2019 league year, all of his $8.9MM 2019 base becomes guaranteed. The same structure exists for the 2020 and ’21 league years, with Goessling reporting Diggs’ 2020 base of $10.9MM becomes fully guaranteed on Day 3 of that league year and $3.3MM of his $10.9MM 2021 salary will be guaranteed if he’s with the Vikes on Day 3 of that league year.

Here’s the latest from some teams’ pass-catching situations, shifting to more contract talk.

  • Eric Decker‘s one-year Patriots agreement comes in at just shy of $2MM. The former Broncos, Jets and Titans wideout signed for $1.9MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). He has a chance to earn up to $2.5MM, per Rapoport, via incentives tied to his reception count. Decker suited up in Patriots gear for the first time Saturday. Now 31, Decker is entering his ninth season.
  • While Emmanuel Sanders has yet to relinquish his status as the Broncos’ No. 2 wide receiver — a role he inherited from Decker in 2014 — the team looks to have found a No. 3 target at long last. Having failed to find a capable cog for that job since Wes Welker‘s exit, the Broncos appear to be zeroing in on Courtland Sutton as their No. 3 receiver, Lindsay Jones of USA Today writes. The SMU product’s drawn rave reviews throughout Broncos camp, and Jones notes the second-rounder’s all but locked up the WR3 job going into preseason play. Fourth-round pick DaeSean Hamilton, viewed as a superior route-runner than the 6-foot-3 Sutton, is expected to play a role as well. But Sutton will likely start out as Denver’s third option. The rookies’ work will be interesting, given the non-guaranteed contract-year salaries for the Broncos’ longtime starting wideouts in 2019.
  • Josh Doctson has suffered another injury, a shoulder setback, but contrary to a previous assessment, the Redskins target won’t be out too long. NBC Sports Washington’s Brian Mitchell, a longtime Redskins return man, said Doctson also needed to have his heel drained earlier this week. Jay Gruden, though, refuted that. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a heel being drained,” Gruden said, via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “So I don’t know where that came from. That is not true, but he’s going to do a little something out here today. We’ll see. I’d be surprised if he went full-go, but he did not have his heel drained.” Doctson has struggled to stay healthy during his NFL career. The 2016 first-rounder missed all of his rookie year because of Achilles trouble and encountered hamstring issues last year.

Patriots To Sign WR Eric Decker

The Patriots will sign wide receiver Eric Decker, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. It’s a one-year deal for the Pats and the former 1,000-yard receiver. 

The Pats are moving on from Jordan Matthews, and that leaves them with a potential need at wide receiver. The Patriots have an interesting group at the position with Julian EdelmanChris Hogan, Kenny Britt, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Braxton Berrios under contract, but they’re looking to shore up their depth as Edelman will miss the first four games of the season.

Decker lobbied for an opportunity with the Patriots this summer and finally got his wish. He had just 54 catches for just 563 yards and one touchdown with the Titans last year and missed most of 2016 with an injury, so he’s eager to get back on the right track.

In 2015, Decker’s last complete season, he hauled in 80 catches for 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Jets. He also had 1,000+ yard seasons in 2012 and 2013 with the Broncos and nearly hit that mark in his first Jets season in 2014. There’s reason to believe that Decker can be a contributor for the Patriots, even if he’s not quite in his prime form.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Interested In Eric Decker

Wide receiver Eric Decker worked out for the Patriots on Monday, a source tells Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Pats are dealing with some injury issues at wide receiver, so Decker could be a candidate to show his stuff in camp and potentially make the final roster. 

The Patriots are already down one receiver for the first month of the season thanks to Julian Edelman‘s four-game suspension. Beyond that, Jordan Matthews, Malcolm Mitchell, and Kenny Britt are all dealing with ailments of their own. Mitchell seems unlikely to make the Pats’ final cut (and he could even be traded in the next few weeks), but the Patriots can ill afford to be short-handed at wide receiver if Matthews and Britt do not recover fully between now and September.

Enter Decker, who has openly lobbied for an opportunity with the Patriots this summer. Outside of spring meetings with the Ravens and Raiders, Decker’s market has been eerily quiet this offseason.

Decker was a late surprise cut by the Jets last year, leading him to sign a one-year deal with the Titans. He fell a little flat in Tennessee, recording 54 catches for just 563 yards and one touchdown. Decker also missed most of 2016 due to injury, so the 31-year-old is now two years removed from being a high-end wide receiver.

In 2015, Decker’s last complete season, he hauled in 80 catches for 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Jets. He also had 1,000+ yard seasons in 2012 and 2013 with the Broncos and nearly hit that mark in his first Jets season in 2014. If Decker can show at least some of his old form, he could be an interesting addition to the Patriots’ mix.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Beckham, S. Jones, Patriots

The Giants and star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. are far apart in extension talks, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk believes Beckham should stage a holdout. After all, if Beckham reports for training camp — as he said he will do — but does not get the deal he’s looking for, then he would essentially be foreclosed from holding out. As Florio notes, a player who reports and then leaves subjects himself to a “five-day letter,” in which a team advises such player that, if he does not return within five days, he will be put on the reserve/left squad list, thereby tolling his contract for a full year. And, if Beckham reports but does not practice with the team until he gets a new deal, he could be subject to fines and suspension for conduct detrimental to the team.

As such, Florio believes Beckham’s only chance to get the contract he deserves this year is to hold out and put a little pressure on the Giants, which none of his other alternatives would do. Beckham, though, appears to be sensitive to the stigma associated with holdouts, so this will remain a fascinating case to monitor.

Now for more from the league’s east divisions:

  • Matt Lombardo of NJ.com names the secondary as perhaps the biggest weakness on the Giants‘ roster, though he says UDFA cornerback Grant Haley — who reportedly received a whopping $100K in guaranteed money from Big Blue — could be a solid slot corner in his rookie season. Lombardo also says the team could reunite with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, which grows more likely the longer DRC lingers on the open market.
  • Eagles cornerback Sidney Jones had a strong offseason, but as Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com observes, Jones spent the last three practices of the spring on the sideline with soreness in his lower body. Philadelphia has said that soreness is wholly unrelated to the Achilles injury that forced Jones to miss almost all of his rookie season, but Shorr-Parks says the fact that the Washington product was forced to miss the most important practices of the spring with a vague injury is noteworthy. The team needs Jones to live up to his collegiate potential, which would have a positive trickle-down effect on the rest of a secondary that needs to replace Patrick Robinson (as of now, Shorr-Parks says, Jalen Mills is the favorite to serve as the Eagles’ nickel corner, a role that Robinson filled so admirably last year).
  • Free agent WR Eric Decker indicated earlier this week that the Patriots would be a good fit for him, and while no team — including the Patriots – has publicly expressed interest in Decker in nearly three months, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says New England could be interested once it has had the opportunity to fully evaluate its receiving corps in training camp.
  • One potentially key member of the Patriots‘ receiving corps, Malcolm Mitchell, is unsure if he will be ready for the start of training camp. Per Stephen Hewitt of the Boston Herald, Mitchell — who missed all of the 2017 campaign with a knee injury after a promising rookie season — simply said “we’ll see” when asked if he would be ready to go when camp opens next month. New England would love to have a healthy Mitchell, especially in light of Julian Edelman‘s impending four-game suspension.
  • Reiss says that Patriots‘ UDFA punter Corey Bojorquez is a legitimate threat to incumbent Ryan Allen.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Decker, Dolphins

Eric Decker is one of several big-name free agents still looking for a home in June and we haven’t heard his name mentioned much since his spring visits with the Raiders and Ravens. However, Decker has some thoughts on where he might fit in.

I think the Patriots would be a good fit [especially since I was] drafted by Josh McDaniels in Denver,” Decker told SiriusXM (on Twitter). “I talked with New England last year during the Free Agency process in June. That is always an option that I would definitely love to entertain.”

The Patriots will be without Julian Edelman to start the season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to go out-of-house for a free agent addition. The Pats still have Chris Hogan, Kenny Britt, Jordan Matthews, Phillip Dorsett, and Cordarrelle Patterson to hold down the fort while sixth-round pick Braxton Berrios and Malcolm Mitchell are among those fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster. When you also consider the presence of special teams ace Matthew Slater, there might not be room for someone like Decker in New England.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Terez A. Paylor of Yahoo Sports posits that the Dolphins are among the potential fits for free agent safety Ron Parker. Parker was arguably the most consistent member of the Chiefs’ secondary in 2017, though he was out of place playing in the box to make up for Eric Berry‘s absence. Paylor also suggests the Bucs and Cowboys as potential suitors.
  • The NFL Players Association has named former Bills GM Doug Whaley as the director of college scouting for their annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. He’ll head up recruitment, evaluation, and the selection process of players as he continues to stay involved in the league. Whaley interviewed for the Packers’ GM job this year before the team promoted Brian Gutekunst to the position.

The Best Remaining NFL Free Agents

There are still plenty of impact free agents left on the board, including some big names. Here’s a look at some of the high-profile veterans that are still looking for work in advance of training camp: 

Kaepernick probably stands as the most talented quarterback left on the open market, but his ongoing collusion case against the NFL complicated matters. It seems unlikely that he’ll land anywhere between now and the start of the season, but friend and former teammate Eric Reid probably has a better chance of signing somewhere, despite being in a similar boat. Recently, the duo was spotted working out together in California.

It seems like just yesterday that Murray was the league’s most fearsome running back. Unfortunately, Murray’s age has caught up to him to some extent and he was overshadowed last year in Tennessee by the younger Derrick HenryThe Titans dropped Murray in March and he has not found a new NFL home despite meeting with the LionsSeahawks, and Dolphins since his release. Recently, the Saints tried to include Murray in their cattle call for running backs, but he declined the invite.

Peterson has lobbied the Texans, Saints, Packers, Panthers, Dolphins, and Rams to sign him, but we have yet to hear of any reciprocated interest from those clubs. It’s possible that Murray and Peterson won’t sign unless a running back injury opens up an opportunity for them. Teams could also steer clear of Peterson altogether given his desire for a starring role despite his lack of star performance over the last two years.

Bryant is the biggest name on this list, but we shouldn’t expect to see him sign anywhere until July. There have been conflicting reports on his market, but the latest word indicates that he is receiving interest, despite concerns about his demeanor in the locker room.

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