Editor’s note: This is a guess post from Kevin Roberts of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow Fantasy Football Overdose on twitter at @NBAandNFLInfo, and for more information on the NFL visit Fantasy Football Overdose – your online source for anything about fantasy football.
The Denver Broncos put up the most points the NFL has ever seen in 2013. Even beyond the point and blowouts, it was pretty safe to say the team we saw this past year had the best offense in history.
Denver couldn’t translate that into a Super Bowl win, but they did get to the final game of the year and should have a chance to do so again in 2014. If they make the right moves, that is. One of those “right moves” might be doing what needs to be done to retain wide receiver Eric Decker.
After all, Decker has put up 80+ receptions, 1,000+ yards and 10+ touchdowns in two straight seasons, and has been a key part of Denver’s offensive and team success. With Wes Welker 33 a potential cut candidate, the Broncos may need Decker back more than they originally thought, too.
The problem, however, could be that the Broncos don’t see Decker as a true number one wide receiver. Demaryius Thomas plays that role for them already and plays it well – bringing back Decker as a #1 guy would be breaking the bank. And the reason why this is a problem is because Decker and his camp do think he can be the top target somewhere. Even worse for Denver, is there are sure to be a handful of teams that agree.
Needless to say, it’s not looking great for the Broncos to hold onto Decker, who simply is too talented and has been too productive to dumb down to a #2 receiver paycheck. If that ends up being the case, Decker will likely sign on the dotted line with one of the following five teams in 2014:
St. Louis Rams
The Rams let Danny Amendola walk last year and haven’t really found a replacement for him yet. On top of that, even he wasn’t a true number one receiver and they need to finally find one. Decker will cost upwards to roughly $9 million per year, but the Rams should take the chance on him being that guy. If they do that, they can bypass spending either of their first round draft picks on a young wide receiver. With draft prospects never a sure thing, why not spend some cash and get a guy they know can produce?
New York Jets
New York has nothing in the passing game to get excited about. They need to completely start over at tight end, while Stephen Hill is raw and Santonio Holmes is ancient. Hill still has some time to develop, but Geno Smith will never realize his potential with this cast of misfits to throw to. Landing Decker could ease the pressure and give Geno a legit target down the field and in the red-zone. In fact, it could also give the Jets flexibility in the first round of the draft, where they could grab a stud tight end or even take care of some issues on the defensive side of the ball. Even if Decker doesn’t end up being worth true #1 money, he’s absolutely better than anything Gang Green has right now. It’d be money well spent.
Steve Smith is regressing and both Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn are about to be free agents. Translation: the Panthers are about three years late on truly addressing their average wide receiver corps. Ginn was actually a nice surprise in 2013 and could be brought back, but he should stick to the slot and return duty. Even if Smith sticks as the team’s top target, they still need a true #2 and/or a guy who can eventually relegate Smith to the #2 spot or retirement. Decker could be that guy.
Kansas City Chiefs
Dwayne Bowe clearly dropped off in play last year, while KC doesn’t really have much talent in the passing game to otherwise write home about. Bowe can still be effective in the red-zone and in spurts elsewhere, but he’d probably be even better if the Chiefs had a real option other than him on the field. Decker could spurn the Broncos by heading over to a rival for more cash. KC is already rumored to be heavily interested in drafting a wide receiver early, so why not get the sure thing. Stealing Decker from a bitter division rival is just the icing on the cake.
Calvin Johnson can’t do it alone. Truth be told, he’s actually “doing it alone” just fine, but if the Lions want to translate his gaudy numbers into actual real-life success, they need a suitable running mate. Decker could be the perfect complement. Blessed with good size, reliable hands and excellent ball skills, he has the ability to take pressure off Johnson down the field, over the middle and in the red-zone. Nate Burleson is old, Kris Durham is a replacement level talent and Ryan Broyles is never healthy. It’s time to round out Detroit’s passing game with a true #2 option.
While these aren’t the only teams that will express interest in Decker, they’re the ones that make the most sense. All of the teams mentioned above either need to take a shot at a legit #1 wide receiver, or badly need to upgrade over what they have at the #2 spot. Decker is easily an elite secondary option, and also has the goods to possibly turn into a solid #1 guy, as well.
Of course, there is always the chance Decker doesn’t get the offers he wants and/or wants to take a slight discount to stay in a potent Broncos passing attack. That, and you know, keep playing winning football and have another shot at a Super Bowl. Obviously any team he goes to, Decker will have a downgrade in terms of who is throwing him the football. Staying in Denver isn’t very likely, but he has admitted he’d like to remain a Bronco, so we can’t really ruled it out. That’s option number six, better advertised as the wild card option.