Our initial thoughts on the New York Jets signing of wide receiver Eric Decker are linked here. However, we wanted to take a closer at his game, which we will do with every new addition the Jets make this offseason. Decker is easily the biggest free agent acquisition since John Idzik has taken over as the team’s GM. What does he bring to the team?
Age: 26 years old.
Size/Speed: 6 foot 3, 217 pounds. 4.54 forty yard dash at 2010 NFL Combine.
Contract: 5 years, 36.25 million dollars, 15 million guaranteed. It is truly tough to argue the Jets didn’t pay fair value for Decker considering his age, size and production. This breakdown of what wide receivers are paid in the NFL should further confirm that.
- 2010: 14 games. 6 receptions, 8 targets, 106 yards, 17.7 YPC, 1 touchdown.
- 2011: 16 games. 44 receptions, 95 targets, 612 yards, 13.9 YPC, 8 touchdowns
- 2012: 16 games. 85 receptions, 123 targets, 1,064 yards, 12.5 YPC, 13 touchdowns
- 2013: 16 games. 87 receptions, 137 targets, 1,288 yards, 14.8 YPC, 11 touchdowns
Positives: Decker has improved every year of his career and is entering his prime at 26 years old. He has very good size and has proven himself to be a consistent and productive redzone target. Decker has shown the ability to succeed from all over the formation, including split end, flanker and in the slot. More importantly, he has an excellent distribution of production across the entire route tree. He is a reliable, smooth route runner who fights for the football and has the ability to get behind the secondary. Despite being stuck in the Tebow Option offense, he managed 8 touchdowns in 2011. He runs well after the catch and doesn’t shy away from contact.
Negatives: Decker drops the football more than you would like to see, with PFF charting him at 22 drops over the past two seasons. They seem to come in bunches for him at times, which is somewhat concerning. He has struggled with physical, press man coverage in the past, most notoriously in the Super Bowl when Richard Sherman completely took him out of the game. To be fair, Sherman did that to many very good receivers throughout last year. Decker doesn’t have top end speed and has a skill set that is more reflective of a possession receiver than a deep threat. For the first time in his career Decker will be the primary focus of defensive coordinators in the passing game on a weekly basis.
Overall: Considering what the Jets wide receiver depth chart looked like, Decker’s rate of production and age, this was a strong signing by John Idzik. The Jets did not overpay, as many thought Decker would command 9-10 million dollars per year. Decker is being paid at the same rate as Stevie Johnson, Golden Tate and Marques Colston. He provides Geno Smith a very good all-around NFL receiver, who is in the discussion for being a top 20 player at his position league wide. Depending on their other signings and draft picks, Decker is likely to spend the majority of his time at split end but Marty Mornhinweg will have the ability to move him to the frontside of the formation and in the slot, where he has also been productive. Ultimately, it comes down to this: the Jets have been awful at wide receiver the past three seasons and they just added a very good receiver at a fair price to help their young quarterback’s development. This is a positive.