A long running rumor finally came to fruition with the New York Jets’ signing of Eric Decker to a 5-year, $36.25 million contact with $15 million in guarantees. Decker immediately becomes by far and away the best receiver on the Jets’ roster, and he will be expected to have a big impact on improving the Jets’ passing game.
Decker was wildly productive the last two seasons with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, recording a combined 172 receptions for 2,352 yards and 24 touchdowns. There are some concerns that Decker was a product of Manning, but he did catch 8 touchdowns with Tim Tebow as his quarterback, so anything is possible. Decker’s numbers will certainly take a hit with the move to a run focused Jets offense that is quarterbacked by Geno Smith, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be worth his contract.
The Jets ranked 31st in the NFL in passing offense last season, and Decker should be big help towards fixing that. He is a big receiver with surprising speed, and he gives the Jets a threat on deep balls and in the red zone that they lacked last season. Many people view this contract as an overpay, and in a vacuum, it probably is. However, the Jets were absolutely desperate to upgrade their receiving corps, and Decker gives them a new top target. For a team with an abundance of cap space, paying a little extra to fill your biggest need isn’t the end of the world.
There are still a ton of questions about Smith’s future and whether or not he can become the Jets’ franchise quarterback. The addition of Decker means that Smith won’t have the excuse of a weak receiving corps this season, and how much he improves will tell the Jets a lot about his future. Decker’s job is to help make Smith and the passing game better, and if he can do that while helping the Jets return to the playoffs, he will absolutely be worth $7 million a year.
The NFL isn’t fantasy football, and the fact that Decker’s stats are going to drop doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t be playing well. If you are expecting him to put up the same numbers he did the last two seasons in Denver, you are going to be disappointed. However, if Decker helps Smith develop and is a part of long term success, he will be worth the money the Jets paid for him, even if he doesn’t put up the same huge stats he did with the Broncos.