It appears that last nights embarrassing loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII may have been Broncos receiver Eric Deckers last game in a Broncos uniform. Decker who will be entering his fifth season will be a Free Agent at the end of the season.
From my #NFLGameDay hit: #Broncos WR Eric Decker will hit the FA market. Team fears they may lose him. They view him as a No. 2— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 2, 2014
Broncos want Decker to take his best offer & come back to them. No guarantee it happens. Broncos have so many other big $$ contracts looming— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 2, 2014
NFL Networks Ian Rapport reported that the Broncos plan to let free agent receiver Eric Decker test the Free Agent market. It looks the plan is that they will let Decker go out and receive offers from other teams, and when he gets an offer he likes he will go back to Denver and see if they decide to match it or not. Rapport does say that there's no guarantee that Decker even comes back to the Broncos with a contract, the Broncos just hope he does.
Eric Decker is coming off a career high in catches and yards with 87 catches for 1,288 yards. He hauled in 11 passing touchdowns which was 3rd on the team behind Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas. In his two years under Peyton Manning, Decker has totaled 172 receptions for 2,352 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Even with those type of numbers the Broncos only view Decker as a number two receiver, and probably plan on only paying him as a number two receiver, not a number one.
On #Broncos viewing Eric Decker as a 2: Teams know such info may bring down value. Denver does want to keep him. We’ll see if they can.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 2, 2014
The Broncos would love to keep Decker apart of this offense, but I do not believe they can afford him. Their biggest problem is that both Julius Thomas and Demaryius Thomas are entering contract years in 2014, and both will demand big money contracts.
Sure the Broncos could decide to Franchise tag Decker, but won't be cheap either. The 2014 tag on receivers would be close to 11 million. One factor that could possibly help the Broncos retain Eric Decker is the 2014 NFL Draft class. It's a very deep class at receiver, and a team could decide to draft a guy instead of spending top dollar on a guy.
I personally do not see Eric Decker coming back to the Broncos next year. Since they plan to let Decker test the market some receiver needy team will probably overpay for him. If Mike Wallace can get a 5 year 60 million dollar contract from the Miami Dolphins, Eric Decker can get something similar or more from another team. I would also rather spent that money somewhere else. The Broncos secondary is a mess, and the team could use another pass rusher or two.
If the Broncos do let Decker walk, they could target a cheaper option via Free Agency, or draft a receiver early in Mays 2014 NFL Draft.