From ESPN Insider Rumors:
Possible destinations for Eric Decker
February, 2, 2014
By Tom Carpenter | ESPN.com
Broncos receiver Eric Decker is slated to become an unrestricted free agent during the offseason, which means he will have the option to sign with any team he wishes. It appears the Denver Broncos have no plans to re-sign him before free agency kicks off March 11.
NFL Networks' Ian Rapoport tweeted Sunday that "#Broncos WR Eric Decker will hit the FA market. Team fears they may lose him. They view him as a No. 2.
"Broncos want Decker to take his best offer & come back to them. No guarantee it happens. Broncos have so many other big $$ contracts looming," Rapoport added.
By letting Decker test the market, the Broncos run the risk of the wideout walking away without them getting the chance to match any offers. And since Decker will be arguably the top wide receiver on the market, they might not be able to match a significant offer from another team, even if he chooses to give the Broncos such an opportunity.
In other words, odds are that Decker will be playing for a new team in 2014. Coming off an 87-catch, 1,288-yard campaign -- plus 24 touchdowns over the past two seasons -- many teams will be interested in Decker's services. We haven't heard any specific rumors yet about teams that hope to meet with Decker as a free agent, but here are five teams that would at least make sense as potential landing spots:
New England Patriots: It's no secret that the biggest weakness of the Patriots' offense is the team's WR corps. The one player who actually came through big in '13 was Julian Edelman, but he might leave as a free agent. Regardless of Edelman's status, the Pats could use Decker's skill set on the outside. Plus, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was coaching the Broncos when they drafted Decker, and you'd have to think the franchise would enjoy swiping one of Peyton Manning's top pass-catchers.
Indianapolis Colts: Reggie Wayne will attempt to return next season following reconstructive knee surgery at age 35, so no one really knows what to expect from him going forward. On the other hand, Decker is in the heart of his prime at age 27. If they paired Decker with T.Y. Hilton on the outside and used Wayne in the slot, they'd have a deadly trio of receivers. The Colts are expected to have plenty of cap space, and owner Jim Irsay might also like the idea of luring a receiver away from Manning.
Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton could use some play-making help in his WR corps, as Steve Smith can hold Father Time at bay for only so long. The Panthers don't have much cap space with which to work, but they might have enough to secure Decker's services. That could allow Newton to take another big step in his development as an NFL quarterback.
New York Jets: The Jets desperately need receiver help, and they should have the cap space to make a splash in that department. The Jets might see Decker as that guy if they believe he can be a genuine No. 1-caliber NFL receiver.
San Diego Chargers: They scored big with Keenan Allen, but the Chargers' WR corps could use some depth. Coach Mike McCoy was Decker's offensive coordinator with the Broncos, so there is a logical connection to be made here. That said, the Chargers are expected to be bumping up against the salary cap, so they probably won't be in position to afford Decker.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.