Chris O'Meara/Associated Press
The Broncos' biggest free-agent priority on offense is wide receiver Eric Decker.
Since Peyton Manning arrived in Denver in 2012, Decker has flourished has one of the best receivers in the NFL. Over the past two seasons, the 6'3" wide receiver has 172 receptions for 2,352 yards and 24 touchdowns.
His presence as the No. 2 wide receiver helped Manning set NFL single-season records in touchdown passes and passing yards this year.
But Decker will be a free agent in 2014. According to Mike Klis of The Denver Post (h/t SB Nation), it is already known the he will test the free-agent market this offseason.
The Broncos want Decker back, but the question is, at what cost?
Bleacher Report's Gary Davenport wrote an article titled, "How Much is Broncos' WR Eric Decker Really Worth in 2014 Free Agency?" In the article, Davenport uses the $10.5 million annual figure as a starting point regarding the salary Decker is likely to command in the free-agent market.
Are the Broncos really willing to pay $10.5 million for a No. 2 receiver? As fast and as big as he may be, he is still a No. 2 receiver. That is not even including the fact that the Broncos have Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Wes Welker coming back for 2014. Even if Decker departs, Manning will still have weapons in the passing game.
The issue here is money. No one disputes that Decker is a quality receiver with or without Manning. But the Broncos cannot afford to pay him $10.5 million per year; they simply have more pressing needs such as cornerback, a pass-rushing defensive end and the re-signing or signing of a starting left guard.
Davenport also lists receivers from the 2013 free-agency class who are in the same tier as Decker: Percy Harvin, Mike Wallace, Greg Jennings and Dwayne Bowe, for example. None of those four receivers received less than $9 million per year.
Jennings received an average of $9 million per year from the Minnesota Vikings. Keep in mind, he's a 30-year-old receiver who is past his prime and sat out the first half of the 2012 season due to a groin injury. In 2011, he suffered an MCL injury that ended his season.
Regardless, he still got paid in free agency with a five-year, $45 million contract.
Although Decker has never proved to be a No. 1 receiver, are we doubting that a desperate team that needs quality receivers won't overpay for a big, 26-year-old receiver?
As with anything in free agency, the market will dictate how much he gets paid. Having said that, the 6'3" receiver won't get paid any less than $10 million per year—if anything, he's likely to get paid more than that.
Because of this, don't expect the four-year veteran to return to the Broncos in 2014. He will get his money elsewhere.
Odds of Broncos Re-Signing Decker: 25/1