Patriots finally decide to bring Decker into the fold
It took a few years, but New England Patriots fans and observers finally got their man.
Many in NFL circles have always felt that wide receiver Eric Decker would be a great fit for the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady. On Thursday, that reportedly became a reality as Decker, the former Bronco and Jet who was released by the Tennessee Titans, agreed to terms with New England on a one-year deal.
Rumors were rampant earlier in the week that the 6-3, 214-pound Decker, whom the team has flirted with before, would join the fold. He reportedly worked out with New England in Foxborough on the off-day Tuesday.
The 31-year-old Decker, during his time with the Broncos, was considered one of the premier possession receivers in the league. In his walk year with Denver in 2013, he had a career best 87 catches for 1,288 yards and 11 TDs.
He then signed as a free agent with the New York Jets, having so-so success. In his second year in New York (2015), he caught 80 balls for 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns in 15 games. However, injuries the following year limited him to just three games and he was released by the Jets last summer.
Decker, who was a 2010 third round pick by Denver, then hooked on with the Titans and played in 15 games but caught only 54 passes for 563 yards and one TD. But he did catch the game winning touchdown from Titans QB Marcus Mariota in Tennessee’s dramatic 22-21 comeback win over Kansas City in the AFC Wild Card Game. He then had six catches for 85 yards in the Titans’ 35-14 loss to the Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round at Gillette.
Many a wide receiver with past accomplishments have tried and failed with New England. But, Decker – if he can play at a good level – should fill a need as the team’s primary slot receiver to open the season, especially after the team released Jordan Matthews, who had a hamstring injury (reportedly reaching an injury settlement). Also, not to mention the upcoming four game regular season suspension of Brady favorite Julian Edelman, who has looked good in camp after missing all of last year with a knee injury. Veteran receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Kenny Britt are injured. Decker can also play on the outside.
Decker’s acquisition also likely impacts the use of the speedy Cordarrelle Patterson and rookie Braxton Berrios.