Eric Decker

Eric Decker To Meet With Ravens

Wide receiver Eric Decker will visit with the Ravens on Thursday, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). This marks Decker’s second visit of free agency, following his March meeting with the Raiders. 

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 performing as 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.

The Ravens have revamped their WR group this offseason by allowing Mike Wallace to leave in free agency and adding Michael Crabtree and John Brown. On the surface, that wouldn’t leave a ton of targets for Decker, but he would be in for a more prominent role if Brown cannot stay healthy.

Recently, Decker expressed interest in a return to Denver, but it’s not clear if the interest is mutual.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Broncos, Seahawks, Matthews

Sam Darnold‘s itinerary is starting to come into focus. He will spend Friday with the Broncos in Los Angeles working out for Denver brass, Albert Breer of SI.com reports (on Twitter). This will come after Darnold spends Wednesday in Cleveland visiting the Browns. Josh Allen is also expected to visit the Browns on Wednesday. As for the Broncos, they’ve now been linked to meetings or workouts with Darnold, Rosen and Baker Mayfield. And it would seem likely, judging by the type of quarterback prospects John Elway has invested in during his GM tenure, that the 6-foot-5 Allen will also meet with the Broncos. Denver signed Case Keenum but is participating in a thorough process to determine whether they should follow the 2016 Eagles’ or 2017 Bears’ routes by subsequently adding a high draft choice at football’s marquee position. Or, this could be partially about setting up a possible trade-down scenario.

Here’s the latest from the West divisions.

  • Eric Decker‘s best seasons came as Peyton Manning‘s No. 2 wideout, and the eight-year veteran remains a UFA. In Denver for non-football reasons, the 31-year-old receiver expressed interest in returning to the Broncos. “There’s no holdup on my end. Whoever you need to call for me, whoever you need to reach out to, please do,” Decker said in an radio interview with former Broncos wideout Brandon Stokley (via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post, Twitter link) this week. “Everything’s got to align; the stars have to kind of align for it to all work. But I’m very receptive to make it happen.” The Broncos have needed a No. 3 wideout since Wes Welker‘s exit, with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders having to carry most of the aerial attack’s load over the past three years. Decker caught 54 passes for 563 yards and a touchdown for the Titans last season, playing in all 16 games after suffering severe injuries in 2016.
  • Jordan Matthews is seeking a deal worth at least $5MM per year, Mike Jurecki of ArizonaSports.com tweets. The Cardinals had an offer out to Matthews, but that was before news of their Brice Butler signing emerged. Matthews also visited the Packers and Patriots.
  • John Schneider said Barkevious Mingo was “pretty much” the Seahawks‘ top priority this offseason, and Pete Carroll detailed (via Brady Henderson of ESPN.com) what the former top-10 pick’s role will be in Seattle. Mingo will slide into the spot Bruce Irvin used to occupy, playing outside linebacker in base sets and shifting to defensive end on passing downs. Schneider said the former LSU standout will have more pass-rushing opportunities with the Seahawks than he’s had at other stops. Mingo has recorded two sacks over the past three seasons.
  • Despite Tom Johnson being a Vikings starter last season, the Seahawks want his former teammate who trekked to Seattle with him, Shamar Stephen, to be a starter over Johnson this year. Henderson notes Stephen, not Johnson, is in line to start alongside nose tackle Jarran Reed. Seattle’s eyeing the soon-to-be 34-year-old Johnson as a rotational presence. A 16-game starter for the 2016 Vikings, Stephen played a depth role behind Johnson and Linval Joseph last season.
  • Jordan Taylor is now the clubhouse leader to be the 2018 Broncos‘ punt returner, but he won’t have a chance to work with the team over the offseason. Multiple hip injuries required surgery on one hip labrum and rehab on the other. He won’t be available until training camp, per Troy Renck of Denver7.

Raiders To Meet With Eric Decker

On Tuesday morning, there were rumblings online of Eric Decker meeting with the Saints. It turns out that Decker is meeting with a team today, but not that one. He’ll be meeting with the Raiders, according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic (on Twitter). 

The meeting with the Raiders marks his first visit of free agency. In Oakland, Decker could become the No. 3 wide receiver on a depth chart that already includes Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2018 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. We’ll start today on offense, before getting to defense and special teams later this week.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. The rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts that each player is expected to land in free agency, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account. Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents are not listed here since they are unlikely to actually reach the open market. The same goes for players who have been franchise tagged or transition tagged.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some guys than you are, so we encourage you to make your voice heard in our comments section to let us know which free agents we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2018:

Quarterback:

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Drew Brees
  3. Case Keenum
  4. A.J. McCarron
  5. Sam Bradford
  6. Teddy Bridgewater
  7. Colin Kaepernick
  8. Josh McCown
  9. Mike Glennon
  10. Drew Stanton
  11. Jay Cutler
  12. Chase Daniel
  13. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  14. Brock Osweiler
  15. Tom Savage

There were many difficult calls when putting this list together, but ranking Kirk Cousins as the No. 1 QB available was not among them. Cousins is the best quarterback to reach free agency in recent history and he’ll become the highest-paid player of all-time – at least, for some period of time – in mid-March. Who will make history with Cousins? That’s anyone’s guess right now. The Browns have more cap room than any other team, but a recent report from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com listed the Broncos, Cardinals, Jets, and Vikings as the final suitors for Cousins. Of those four, the Jets have the most money to work with, but they’re concerned about the Vikings winning out and Cousins’ desire to win could point him in another direction. If the Broncos and Cardinals want in on the Cousins sweepstakes, they’ll have to get creative with the books.

Drew Brees is included here, but by his own admission, he’ll be re-signing with the Saints rather than testing the open waters of free agency. Unless the Saints lowball their franchise QB, it’s hard to see him leaving New Orleans.

Case Keenum put together a tremendous season for the Vikings, but he doesn’t have a history of success beyond 2017. There will be plenty of interest in Keenum, but only after QB-needy teams strike out on Cousins. The incumbent Vikings could re-sign Keenum, but right now, it seems like they are intent on exploring the Cousins waters first.

There isn’t a ton of footage on A.J. McCarron, which made his placement on this list awfully tricky. We know this much: McCarron did well in place of Dalton in the home stretch of the 2015 season and his former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was salivating at the chance of landing him before the Browns bungled the trade with the Bengals. McCarron’s relative youth is a plus (he won’t turn 28 until September) and his lack of experience can be looked at as a positive. Unlike some of the other names on this list, he hasn’t run up his NFL odometer.

What will NFL teams make of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford this offseason? Not long ago, both seemed like quality starting options. However, there are serious injury questions about both players and any team signing them will either look to backstop them with another decent option or ask them to come onboard as a QB2. With that in mind, one has to wonder if Bradford would consider retirement if asked to hold the clipboard for another signal caller. Bradford has earned upwards of $110MM over the years in the NFL, so it’s safe to say that he has enough money in the bank to call it quits if he wants. For now, he’s intent on playing.

Colin Kaepernick‘s placement on this list is sure to draw some strong reactions from his fans and detractors alike. Looking purely at his football ability, there’s no question that he belongs on someone’s roster. At minimum, Kaepernick profiles as a high-end backup, even after a year out of the game.

Quarterbacks coaches have long believed that Mike Glennon is capable of great things, due in part to his height. At 6’7″, he can see over any defensive line, but he hasn’t done much on the field to prove that he is a quality Week 1 starting option. Josh McCown, who is a decade his senior, edges him here for his surprisingly strong performance in 2017 at the helm of a weak Jets offense.

Read more

South Notes: O’Callaghan, Falcons, Decker

Former Chiefs and Patriots offensive tackle Ryan O’Callaghan has come out as gay, as Cyd Ziegler of OutSports.com writes. O’Callaghan, a former fifth-round pick who played in the NFL from 2006-11, describes a deeply dark period in his life during which he used painkillers extensively in order to cope with injuries and his mixed feelings regarding his own sexuality. Sadly, O’Callaghan admits he was on the verge of committing suicide before meeting with a clinical psychologist linked to the Chiefs. Slowly, O’Callaghan began coming out to family and friends — including former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli and college teammate Aaron Rodgers — and is now working with an LGBT organization in his native Redding, California. O’Callaghan’s story is one of courage and inspiration, and Ziegler’s article is well worth a full read.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two South divisions:

  • As Tom Pelissero of USA Today reported yesterday, Eric Decker‘s one-year contract with the Titans can be worth as much as $5.35MM, and today Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk details exactly how Decker can reach that figure. In addition to his $2.5MM signing bonus and $1.35MM base salary, Decker can earn another $150K in gameday active roster bonuses. Additionally, Decker can get $250K if he scores four touchdowns, per Florio. He’ll receive $125K for every 10 catches starting at 30 and maxing out at 70 (netting him as much as $625K), and can earn another $125K for every 100 yards receiving starting at 450 and maxing out at 850 (potential total: $625K).
  • If recent history is any guide, cornerback Marcus Peters shouldn’t expect an extension from the Chiefs when he becomes a free agent in 2020, opines Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. Kansas City has liberally used the franchise tag on its elite defenders, including edge rusher Justin Houston and safety Eric Berry in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Of course, both of those players eventually garnered long-term deals, and are each among the top-three at their position in annual salary. Still, the Chiefs are likely to exercise Peters’ fifth-year option for 2019, then use the franchise tag in 2020 before extending him.
  • A one-year deal is seemingly never a bad investment, but some single season pacts are more valuable than others, leading Field Yates of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) to examine the best one-year contracts handed out this offseason. Decker is the most recent signee to make the list, as he’s expected to act as a veteran presence on a young Titans receiving corps. Other featured players from the NFL’s South divisions include Falcons defensive tackle Dontari Poe ($10MM), Chiefs defensive tackle Bennie Logan ($8MM), and Colts wide receiver Kamar Aiken ($5MM).

Details On Eric Decker’s Titans Contract

New Titans wide receiver Eric Decker‘s one-year contract can be worth as much as $5.35MM, reports Tom Pelissero of USA Today (Twitter link). Decker will receive a $2.5MM signing bonus, a $1.35MM base salary, and up to $1.5MM incentives, per Pelissero.Eric Decker

Decker, 30, had been scheduled to earn a $6.5MM base salary with the Jets in 2017, so while he won’t be able to match that figure with Tennessee, he’ll have the opportunity to come close if he meets all his incentives. While it’s unclear exactly what totals Decker needs to reach in order to unlock his incentives, the bonuses are likely tied to receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and/or the Titans team performance. Because Decker only managed nine receptions for 194 yards last year, any incentives are probably considered “not likely to be earned.”

Decker’s contract stands in contrast to fellow receiver Jeremy Maclin, who received a two-year, $11MM deal from the Ravens. Maclin, 29, is expected to earn $6MM in 2017, and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reported that Maclin’s pact doesn’t contain much “funny money.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eric Decker Had Interest From 5-6 Teams

Over the weekend, the Titans signed Eric Decker to a one-year deal. Before the wide receiver inked his contract in Nashville, he says that he drew interest from five or six teams and had other visits initially scheduled for this week (link via Jim Wyatt of Titans Online). Eric Decker (vertical)

[RELATED: Titans Sign Eric Decker]

Mulling over some of my options, I just felt like this was the right fit,’’ Decker said. “Just looking at the roster, and the progress they’ve made over the last few years, and meeting with Jon (Robinson) and Mike (Mularkey), I have a lot of respect for where they came from, their philosophy, how they do things, and that’s something I want to be a part of. “And I am excited about Marcus Mariota and the young talent he is.”

Decker has owned a home in Tennessee since 2012 and says that he used to joke with his wife about how perfect it would be to play for the Titans. When the Jets made the surprising decision to cut Decker, that opened up the door for him to turn the running joke into a reality. He’ll now get to be closer to his family while wife Jessie James Decker, a country singer, continues to pursue her career in Music City.

The Ravens and Browns were connected to Decker, but it’s not clear how serious their level of interest was. The Broncos and Eagles, despite some speculation about their interest in the receiver, were not in pursuit. It’s not clear what other clubs had interest in Decker, but based on what the 30-year-old has said, it sounds like there were at least two more in the mix.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Sign Eric Decker

The Titans have agreed to a one-year contract with free agent wide receiver Eric Decker, according to Paul Kuharsky of Midday 180 (Twitter link).Eric Decker (Vertical)

Decker, 30, becomes the latest addition to a Tennessee offense that has already seen numerous upgrades this offseason. The Titans used the fifth overall selection in April’s draft on Western Michigan wideout Corey Davis, and later drafted West Virginia pass-catcher Taywan Taylor in the third round. Third-rounder Jonnu Smith will pair with veteran Delanie Walker at tight end, while other wide receivers on Tennessee’s depth chart include Rishard Matthews, Tajae Sharpe, and Harry Douglas.

The Jets decided in early June that they would either release or trade Decker after his three seasons in New York, and after holding talks with the Ravens about a potential swap, Gang Green cut ties with Decker last week. In addition to the Titans, the Browns also reportedly had some level of interest in Decker. The Broncos, meanwhile, were not interested in a reunion with Decker, while the Eagles — despite finishing second in the Jeremy Maclin sweepstakes — also weren’t in on Decker.

Decker, who currently lives in the Nashville area, was excellent from 2012-15 with Denver and then New York, as he averaged 82 receptions, 1,085 yards, and 10 touchdowns per year during that span. 2016 was a down season for the seven-year pro, however, as Decker appeared in only three games thanks to a shoulder injury that ultimately landed him on injured reserve. Nine catches, 194 yards, and two touchdowns marked the only production for Decker in his final Jets campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Rumors: Kaepernick, RG3, Eagles

Three NFL executives tell Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com that they see former 49ers signal caller Colin Kaepernick as the best backup quarterback option available. Of course, we have watched many other QBs come off of the board while Kaepernick remains unsigned.

Kaep, [Shaun] Hill, Dan Orlovsky, Robert Griffin III,” said one AFC exec when asked to rank the best remaining options.

A fourth exec surveyed by Fowler opined that Griffin is actually the best QB left on the market. Meanwhile, one official in the group said he wouldn’t sign Griffin “under any circumstances.” It seems like teams agree more with the latter opinion as Griffin has drawn very little interest this offseason.

Here’s a look at the NFC:

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

Browns Interested In Eric Decker?

The Browns appear to have some level of interest in wide receiver Eric Decker, as the club has “done some work” on the free agent pass-catcher, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com.Eric Decker (Vertical)

Cleveland already made one addition to its receiving corps this offseason, inking former Rams wideout Kenny Britt to a four-year deal, but as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com recently noted, the Browns have made inquiries on nearly every free agent receiver that has hit the market in the past several months. The club’s interest in now-Raven Jeremy Maclin is indicative of that strategy, although Cleveland never set up a visit with Maclin before he signed with Baltimore.

At present, Britt and 2016 first-round pick Corey Coleman are the Browns’ starting wideouts, and while the team has a number of intriguing options further down its depth chart, Cleveland’s pass-catching group is short on experience. Like Coleman, Ricardo Louis, Rashard Higgins, and Jordan Payton all entered the league in 2016, while Mario Alford, James Wright and Rannell Hall all have limited NFL exposure.

Decker, then, would offer the Browns another veteran receiver to play alongside Britt. The 30-year-old Decker has been linked to a number of clubs this offseason, including the Titans, with whom he met yesterday. The Broncos, however, are not interested in a reunion with Decker, while the Ravens are unlikely to sign another wideout after landing Maclin.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.