The New York Jets have had issues with their passing offense and receiver corps for years, but on Wednesday evening, they took a decisive step in the right direction by agreeing to terms on a new deal with former Denver Broncos receiver Eric Decker. Eric Allen of NewYorkJets.com was the first to report the news officially, and ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the deal is for five years and $36.25 million, with $15 million guaranteed.
Decker had been at the Jets' Florham Park facility through most of Wednesday, spending quality time (including dinner) with team executives and head coach Rex Ryan. Decker had made the trip from Denver to New York City on Tuesday, and the buzz was that he wouldn't leave without a deal.
Selected in the third round of the 2010 draft out of Minnesota, Decker started off slow in his NFL career, catching 50 passes for 718 yards and nine touchdowns in his first two seasons. But when the Broncos agreed to terms with Peyton Manning before the 2012 season, Decker's fortunes improves along with the rest of Denver's offense. He caught 85 passes for 1,064 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2012, and added 87 receptions for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2013.
Though Demaryius Thomas established himself as Denver's number-one receiver in that time, Decker was among the most productive targets in the NFL, ranking fourth in Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted metrics in 2012, and fourth again in 2013.
The soon-to-be first-time father was excited about the free agency process, as he told the Denver Post on Mar. 3.
"I have a lot going on, no question about it," Decker said. "I'm anxious about what lies ahead for me. We don't have a baby room set up. That's No. 1. And then professionally ... I'm excited and blessed to have this opportunity in free agency, and having a baby.
"I guess right now I can't wait to get the process started, and then to get it over with so I can get settled and get ready for the next chapter in my life." Grade: B. The contract is in line with what other receivers at Decker's level currently make, but the question is if Decker's production nosedive as he transitions from catching footballs from Peyton Manning to Geno Smith, or possibly Michael Vick, or whoever the Jets' quarterback du jour may be? The Broncos set an NFL record with 606 points scored last season, and Manning set his own record with 55 regular-season touchdown passes. There are thoughts that Decker is a number-two receiver whose numbers were inflated by the system he was in. Decker has not yet proven otherwise; now it's his chance to do so.