As wide receiver Eric Decker signed with the New York Jets on Wednesday evening, it was easy to dismiss the move. After all, his success with the Denver Broncos can be linked directly to playing with Peyton Manning, who has proven that he still has plenty left in the tank while making the Broncos one of the toughest teams in the NFL.
Surely, with Geno Smith at the helm, Decker’s production will decline, right? Smith is no Manning after all.
Then again, who is? With the exception of a very select few – Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady, really – any team Decker landed with was going to have a downgrade at quarterback. That’s just the reality of the situation. You can’t fault anybody there.
From the Jets perspective, they absolutely had to get a receiver in to help Smith. The team has several issues, but they spent all of 2013 without anything resembling a No. 1 receiver. Jeremy Kerley, with 43 receptions for 523 yards, led the team last season, and that’s barely starting quality on many squads.
Decker has never been asked to be the first option, but it looks like he’ll be getting his chance this season. He also brings the knowledge and experience of having learned from one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game.
Don’t forget, too, that while Decker was the best option in free agency, the draft still lingers, where players like Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, and Marquise Lee will be available. Even with Decker’s new five-year, $32 million deal, there’s still room to bring in more help. And even if Smith doesn’t improve, the base of a receiving corps will be there to hopefully attract another signal caller.
There’s no question that the Jets must get their passing game in order, especially on the heels of the New England Patriots signing Darrelle Revis. But even though the team will have their challenges ahead, this was clearly a situation where the Jets needed to get their man, and that part of the mission has been accomplished.