Eric Decker will test free agency this offseason, per report
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Eric Decker may be suiting up for his final game with the Denver Broncos, unless he’s willing to offer the team that drafted him a discount price.
The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that Decker will test free agency and Denver “fears they may lose him.” Rapoport added that the Broncos want Decker to “take his best offer [and] come back to them,” presumably to allow them the opportunity to match or exceed that offer.
But the real problem for the Broncos comes in another caveat from Rapoport: Denver views Decker as a No. 2 receiver, alongside No. 1 Demaryius Thomas. Decker, though, appears to be in line for No. 1 receiver money this offseason following a 1,288-yard, 11-touchdown showing in 2013. This also will mark the 26-year-old Decker’s first foray into free agency, so he may be eager to cash in — right now, he would be perceived as the best receiver on the market. Other notable receivers poised to be free agents: Hakeem Nicks, Anquan Boldin and Jeremy Maclin.
Both Demaryius Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas will be entering contract years in 2014, which means that the Broncos will have to set aside some money to ensure neither player reaches free agency. Locking down Decker at a massive cost would make it far more difficult to keep the Thomases in tow.
Another option for Denver: using the franchise tag on Decker. That, too, would be a large financial commitment. The receiver tag came in at approximately $10.5 million this season.
It is possible that the 2014 draft ultimately will hurt Decker’s quest for a lucrative, multi-year deal. The receivers in this coming May’s class are talented and numerous, with several possibly ticketed for the first round. Teams may opt to commit resources there as opposed to coughing up millions upon millions to chase a player in free agency.
How teams view Peyton Manning’s impact on Decker’s performance also could come into play. Decker’s best pre-Manning showing (44 catches, 612 yards, eight touchdowns) came in 2011 — with Tim Tebow, among others, playing QB. His numbers have skyrocketed over the past two years.