Updates from Wednesday, March 12
Eric Allen of newyorkjets.com reported late into the evening that Eric Decker had signed with the Jets:
The Jets have agreed to terms with WR Eric Decker.— Eric Allen (@eallenjets) March 13, 2014
ESPN's Adam Schefter disclosed full details:
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
Earlier in the evening you got the sense a deal was bound to happen.
Decker was getting rather cozy with one potential destination according to Rich Cimini of ESPN New York:
Oh, by the way, on the Eric Decker front: He's still in NJ, having dinner with #Jets personnel. Jets making push to sign WR.— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) March 13, 2014
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News provided evidence that Decker and members of the Jets organization went out to dinner Wednesday night:
After two big seasons catching passes from Peyton Manning, Eric Decker is ready to cash in during free agency.
The four-year veteran had a breakout year for the Denver Broncos in 2012, totaling 85 catches for 1,064 yards and 13 touchdowns. A year later, he posted even better numbers, with 1,288 yards on 87 receptions and 11 touchdowns.
As Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News points out, Decker has been among the league leaders in touchdowns over the past few seasons:
TD receptions over the last 3 seasons: Dez Bryant 34, Calvin Johnson 33, Eric Decker 32, Jordy Nelson 30, A.J. Green 29, Brandon Marshall 29— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) January 28, 2014
The questions now are how much money the talented player is worth on the open market, and which team is willing to pay the cost to bring him in.
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport (via Chris Wesseling of NFL.com) reported in February that the Broncos would have a hard time re-signing the receiver. He explained that the "organization views Decker as a No. 2 receiver who might be seeking a contract commensurate with a No. 1."
Mike Klis of The Denver Post provided a look at how negotiations are expected to go with the receiver this spring:
The defending AFC champion Broncos want Decker back and Decker would like to stay. Money might separate them. A free agent, Decker is expected to command a multiyear contract worth $8 million to $9 million per year as one of the top "No. 2" receivers in the NFL.
Decker personally does not like the label of a No. 2 receiver, explaining to Klis:
I think Demaryius Thomas is on a complete different level with his talent. I think he's a top five-caliber receiver in this league. How it falls off from there, where you look at a receiver, I just try to be versatile and play all the positions. People might want to label me, but I don't want to put a label on myself.
Of course, it will be up to the organizations around the league to decide the receiver's value. If someone wants to pay him as an elite player, you can be certain that Decker will be listening.
On the other hand, there are rumors that Denver might not even want him back at a reduced price, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk:
Some in league circles believe the Broncos hope Decker gets that big offer and pounces on it, so that the Broncos aren’t faced with the dilemma of paying Decker something in the range of $5 million per year or politely telling him they’re not interested.
Florio notes that Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas are both entering the final year of their contracts and will have to be paid soon.
If Decker does look to the open market for a new destination, there are plenty of teams that would be interested in signing the player. One possible location is the Indianapolis Colts, who have interest, according to Vic Lombardo of CBS4:
Among the teams that have interest in Eric Decker ... Indy. If he can't play with PFM, he'd love to roll with Andrew Luck.— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) February 27, 2014
Bleacher Report's Chris Simms agreed that this would be a great fit for both sides:
After Reggie Wayne went down with an injury last season, the Colts did not have many weapons outside of T.Y. Hilton. Decker would provide another option for Andrew Luck in the passing game and would help the team get over the top to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
If Indianapolis does not want to sign Decker, teams like the Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions and many more could use a big-time receiver heading into next season.
There is little doubt that the former third-round pick will find a new home before long this offseason.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.