Broncos free-agent wide receiver Eric Decker has signed with the New York Jets. After being let go by the Broncos, never receiving any offer from the only team he has played for, the New York Jets swept in and grabbed the talented player with a five year, $36.25 million contract ($15 millions in guaranteed money). The Jets’ signing of Eric Decker is the first step for New York going in a positive direction, and with the Patriots recently signing All-Pro cornerback, and former Jet, Darrell Revis, it could not have come at a more opportune moment.
Considered by many pundits to be the best wide receiver available, Decker is coming off back to back 1,000 yard seasons in Denver. Last season, arguably Decker’s best, he recorded 87 receptions for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Jets most productive receiver last season, Jeremy Kerley, recorded 43 receptions for 523 yards and 3 touchdowns. Decker is sure to help the Jets, who were 29th in scoring and 31st in passing last year. Decker is also a consistent player, ranking second in the league over the past two seasons with 24 touchdowns, and ninth in the league in both receptions (172) and yards (2,352), but he had Payton Manning throwing him the ball and he was one of four weapons. In New York, he’ll have Geno Smith, the presumed starter, throwing him the ball who will have a lot to prove after a very up and down rookie season.
While the Jets were bolstering their offense, their hated conference rivals, the Patriots, signed Darrell Revis to a one year, $12 million contract and greatly improved their secondary. The two teams play twice every year and both know the importance of winning the head to head match-ups, which makes these offseason moves all the more interesting. As great as it is for Decker to sign with the New York Jets, the Patriots basically cancelled it out by getting Revis, arguably the best corner in the game, who will undoubtably be all over Decker when they play.
The Jets also replaced their offensive lineman Austin Howard by coming to terms with former Seahawks RT Breno Giacomini. Giacomini started for the Seahawks the past two and a half years as well as for the Super Bowl. He started on one of the best offensive lines in the league and can help the Jets not only in the run game, but in protecting their young quarterback and giving receivers, like Decker, more time to get open.
The Jets current offensive lineup is already looking miles ahead of last year’s group. Quarterback Geno Smith had a rough rookie year, will most definitely face competition during training camp, and may have to battle veteran Mike Vick, who already knows the Jet’s system. Smith does have a full year under his belt and showed real promise in a handful of games, especially towards the end of the season, so if he can be a consistent player, the Jets will be have an answer at quarterback. Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory were both solid last year in the run game, especially Ivory who seemed back to his bruising self during the second half of the season. Jeff Cumberland, their six foot four tight end and one of Smith’s favorite targets, re-signed with the team, as did their clutch kicker Nick Folk. The defense and special teams have always been reliable under head coach Rex Ryan, and the offensive line has a number of pro-bowlers as well as the newly acquired Giacomini, leaving wide receivers as the area most in need.
Last year, Geno Smith was not the only reason the Jets were 31st in the league in passing, it largely fell on their receiving corps who dropped way too many passes and could not get open. Players like David Nellson, Greg Salas and Clyde Gates, none of whom are considered starters at their position, had to step up and they did an admiral job; but none of them are considered answers at the position. The Decker deal is GM John Idzik’s biggest free agent acquisition since joining the team, but he still has work to do. He proved last year that he can draft talented defensive players as Sheldon Richardson, last year’s first round pick became defensive rookie of the year, and acquire solid free agents, so this year he’ll have to prove he can draft talented offensive players as well.
After releasing Santonio Holmes, their number one receiver, and signing Eric Decker, the New York Jets gained a solid, proven number two receiver. When paired with Kerley, who should play in the slot, his best position, they are only one piece away. If Idzik drafts a number one receiver with their first pick, they may have finally solved their wide receiver woes of late. If the Jets do find a great wide receiver to pair with Decker, they may find the last puzzle piece and resemble a complete team, worthy of competing for Rex Ryan’s third trip to the AFC Championship.
Commentary by Chris Dragicevich