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Eric Decker Will See Huge Drop in Production If He Signs with New York Jets

Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker (87) warms up before an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIMarch 12, 2014

Free agent wide receiver Eric Decker will soon learn that leaving the Denver Broncos will have a negative effect on his career.

Decker is currently being courted by the New York Jets, and he met with the team on Wednesday, tweets Kim Jones of NFL.com. The Jets are in dire need of offensive firepower around quarterback Geno Smith, and Decker would likely be just the first step in general manager John Idzik's master plan to revamp the offense.

Smith started all 16 games for Gang Green in 2013, but he didn't have the best of results. Sure, the team was 8-8, but a lack of weapons really prevented Smith from putting up better numbers.

Alan Diaz/Associated Press

Jeremy Kerley was the team's top receiver, hauling in 43 passes for 523 yards and three touchdowns. Tight end Jeff Cumberland caught four touchdown passes, making him the team leader in that category.

Needless to say, the Jets are in a bind when it comes to pass-catching options.

Decker would certainly be an improvement over the current options in place, but the high expectations that will inevitably come with his signing will not be met. Actually, Decker probably won't even come close.

Decker was dynamic the past two years in Denver with Peyton Manning under center. Just take a look at his numbers:

Eric Decker, 2012 and 2013
YearG/GSRecYdsTD
201216/15851,06413
201316/16871,28811
pro-football-reference.com

In 2011, Decker started 13 of the team's 16 games. Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton were the men under center that year, and Decker's numbers were simply mediocre. Check them out:

Eric Decker, 2011
YearG/GSRecYdsTD
201116/13446128
pro-football-reference.com

It's obvious that Manning made Decker a better receiver, and the Jets need to be aware of this. Josh Alper of NBCSports.com agrees:

The big question that they’ll have to answer is whether Decker will be as effective catching passes from Geno Smith or someone else the Jets bring in as he was catching passes from Peyton Manning with a ton of offensive talent around him. 

Should Decker strike a deal with the Jets, both parties need to be aware that his production will drop. Smith will struggle to get Decker the ball with consistency. He struggles in making good reads and tends to both undershoot and overshoot his targets when given enough time.

He appeared antsy in the pocket at times in 2013, and that's something that will hurt Decker's chances of replicating his success from the past two seasons.

Even if Smith improves heading into Year 2 as the Jets' signal-caller, there's no way he'll be able to keep Decker happy. Opposing defenses will zero in on Decker when it becomes apparent that he is Smith's favorite target, and the young passer won't be able to check down to his second or third looks.

Decker represents a sure-fire upgrade over what the Jets currently have in place, but even that won't help him maintain his production from the past two seasons. He'll be sorely missing Manning once he remembers what it's like to catch passes from somebody else.

 

Follow me on Twitter to debate Decker and the Jets: @kennydejohn

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