Undoubtedly, the top offseason story for the Broncos this year is what will become of wide receiver Eric Decker.
Decker is pretty unanimously considered the top free agent receiver on the open market, but some teams are struggling with the fact that this may be a guy who is more of a number two receiver than a true number one.
Still, that hasn’t silenced any rumors that Decker might be making huge money over the prime years of his career.
The latest rumor is that Decker could command $10 million annually, which is a ridiculous number given to only the top three to five receivers in the league right now.
Will that number cool off a bit? That depends how desperate a team is.
These facts are well established at this point, but the fact is if Decker wants a monster deal he’s going to have to leave the Broncos. If he doesn’t want to fix what ain’t broken and take a fair deal, he’ll stay in Denver.
It’s tough to ask a player to turn down a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a top five contract at your position, but that’s exactly what the Broncos will attempt to do with Decker. The 2010 third round pick will feel out his market, give the Broncos a call with his best offer (which will likely be his first one), and the Broncos will potentially have to send Decker packing.
This is a player that has been important to the Broncos’ success, but he’s been–at times–inconsistent in his production. Decker has made his fair share of big plays, and has racked up over 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns in each of the last two seasons, but he’s also definitely been established as the Robin to Demaryius Thomas’ Batman.
The Broncos know they will be giving a huge deal to Thomas next offseason, and he won’t be the only one. They will have to extend Julius Thomas as well, and potentially franchise tag or extend another star like linebacker Von Miller.
Letting go of Decker would allow the Broncos to spent potentially $8-10 million elsewhere on the roster, which is something they can’t take lightly, especially the way the defense played at times this past year.
They also have to take into account the fact that there are only two wide receivers under contract for next season (Thomas, Wes Welker).
The more and more his name comes up, the more I feel that–sadly–Decker has played his final game as a Bronco. It’d be hard to blame him for taking a big contract, an opportunity that won’t come along but once in a lifetime. It’s a hard decision for Decker to make because obviously he has a lot of emotional tie to the city of Denver, where he’s become best friends with teammate Demaryius Thomas, started a family, and made a household name for himself.
That’s the ugly part of the business of the NFL, but certainly Broncos fans wish nothing but the best for Decker, who gave the team four great seasons.