We have finally reached the top five of our rankings of the New York Jets’ top 25 players, and we begin with the team’s premier offseason addition, wide receiver Eric Decker. Decker has progressed very nicely throughout his four years in the NFL, raising his receptions and yardage totals every season while recording at least eight touchdown receptions in each of the last three years. Decker was the best receiver on the market, and the Jets were happy to give him a 5-year contract worth just over $36 million.
Let’s begin with obvious facts about Decker. He is not going to catch 87 passes for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns this year with the Jets like he did while playing with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos last season. Decker is also not a true No. 1 receiver in the sense that guys like Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, and Brandon Marshall are, and for those reasons the Jets received a fair amount of criticism for this signing.
However, Decker is still by far the best receiver the Jets have, and he is going to be their No. 1 receiver. There is basically no plausible scenario in which a healthy Decker could do anything other than significantly improve the Jets’ 31st ranked passing offense and greatly help with Geno Smith’s development. Equally important, by base salary Decker is tied with Stevie Johnson for the 17th highest paid receiver in the NFL this season, right behind Marques Colston and right in front of Golden Tate. Based on age, past production, and overall talent, that’s about fair. The Jets didn’t overpay Decker, and it would be very foolish to consider him a bust simply because he doesn’t post the same numbers he did in Denver.
What Decker brings to the table for the Jets is the physical outside presence they lacked last season. He is the type of receiver who can stretch the field outside the numbers but can also make the tough catches underneath. He is a good route runner with reliable hands, and he should immediately become Smith’s favorite target. Decker will be a huge asset for the Jets in the red zone, an area where their passing game disappeared all too frequently last year. Decker is also deceptively fast and can win jump balls down the field, and he should bring some big plays to a Jets’ offense that finished 20th in yards per attempt last season.
Decker is a very well rounded receiver who is good at just about everything, even though he isn’t necessarily great at those things. Defenses will have to pay attention to him in a way they didn’t with any of the Jets’ receivers last season, which will help open things up for the running game and create opportunities for Jeremy Kerley and Jace Amaro to beat single coverage. Overall, Decker is a massive upgrade at what was arguably the Jets’ weakest position last season, and his presence should be a huge boost to the offense as a whole.
Decker’s statistics may be overblown by playing in Denver, but there is no denying that he is a very talented receiver who is one of the better pass catchers in football. The Jets were very wise to sign him, and they should see huge rewards for that decision over the next few seasons. When all the factors are considered, there is no doubt Decker deserves to be mentioned as one of the Jets’ top 5 players.
Previously: No. 25 Bilal Powell, No. 24 Kenrick Ellis, No. 23 Geno Smith, No. 22 Dawan Landry, No. 21 Jeff Cumberland, No. 20 Antonio Allen, No. 19 Quinton Coples, No. 18 Calvin Pryor, No. 17 Michael Vick, No. 16 Willie Colon, No. 15 Dee Milliner, No. 14 Calvin Pace, No. 13 Breno Giacomini, No. 12 Nick Folk, No. 11 Demario Davis, No. 10 Jeremy Kerley, No. 9 Chris Johnson, No. 8 Chris Ivory, No. 7 David Harris, No. 6 D’Brickashaw Ferguson