Eric Decker has reached an agreement with the New York Jets.
Jets team insider Eric Allen announced the deal is official:
The Jets have agreed to terms with WR Eric Decker.— Eric Allen (@eallenjets) March 13, 2014
ESPN's Adam Schefter disclosed the terms of the deal:
Jets are giving former Broncos WR Eric Decker a 5-year, $36.25M deal, including $15M gtd, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 13, 2014
Decker sent a farewell to his fans in Denver on Friday, courtesy of his Instagram account:
Decker is coming off back-to-back very productive seasons with the Denver Broncos. He racked up 172 catches for 2,352 yards and 24 touchdowns over that span. Of course, that spike in his numbers coincided with the arrival of Peyton Manning.
The wideout talked about his decision on a conference call Friday, according to Kimberly A. Martin of Newsday:
Eric Decker, on conf call, said he has "tremendous" respect for the #Jets. ...Added: "NJ is underrated. ...it's a beautiful place."— Kimberley A. Martin (@KMart_LI) March 14, 2014
Eric Decker on playing w/ Peyton Manning: "Of course he helped. He's future HOFer. But I'm also a good player."— Kimberley A. Martin (@KMart_LI) March 14, 2014
Eric Decker, on conf call, says there "was no official offer" from DEN.— Kimberley A. Martin (@KMart_LI) March 14, 2014
Decker said "obvi, being in the biggest, best city in the country" offers other opportunities for him + wifey— Kimberley A. Martin (@KMart_LI) March 14, 2014
Although he enjoyed plenty of success during the regular season, the playoffs were another story. The 26-year-old wideout made just eight catches for 111 yards and no touchdowns during the team's run to the Super Bowl.
That raised questions about whether he deserved a No. 1 receiver contract. He has served as a very productive No. 2 option in a high-powered offense, but the lack of contribution in the postseason is a concern. It's unclear if he can be that top option, if needed.
Pete Damilatis of Pro Football Focus provided an interesting look at Decker's advanced numbers:
Eric Decker, with and without Peyton Manning: pic.twitter.com/6JewhPfBR4— Pete Damilatis (@PFF_Pete) February 7, 2014
Decker said immediately after the Super Bowl that he wanted to stay with Denver, as noted by Arran Andersen of KMGH-TV, even though it was known the team had some question marks due to the salary cap moving forward:
Eric Decker said he hopes to stay with @Broncos, out of his hands now. Figures to be a hot commodity on the Free Agent marker— Arran Andersen (@arranandersen) February 4, 2014
Obviously, getting to work with Manning is always an alluring option. That said, returning to Denver was always viewed as a long shot.
While Jets starting QB Geno Smith isn't Manning, here's what Decker had to say about the young signal-caller (via New York Post reporter Brian Costello):
Decker tells the Denver Post that Mornhinweg believes in Geno: "When you look at the statistics, yeah he got off to a slow start, but …— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) March 13, 2014
More Decker via Denver Post: "he was hurt early on and he finished the season strong. He improved all season long in a tough market … ”— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) March 13, 2014
End of Decker quote from Denver Post on Geno improving as season went on: "That’s pretty impressive.”— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) March 13, 2014
Now that he has secured a new deal, the process of proving himself begins once again. The upside free agency offers for players hitting their prime like Decker is the big contract. The downside is the extremely high expectations that come along with it.
What's your opinion of Decker's new contract?
Those playoff struggles, including a Super Bowl performance that saw him make just one catch for six yards against a physical Seattle Seahawks defense, will ensure doubters remain. It's fair to wonder if he's prepared to handle a bigger role with more defensive attention.
That said, his production over the past couple of seasons warranted a big deal. He just needs to prove he's worth the investment by elevating his level of play in key moments. Whether he will is very much up for debate, at least for the time being.
Decker entered the offseason as one of the most talked-about free agents. His new contract ensures he'll remain in the spotlight once the new season gets underway, as well.