The Denver Broncos have plenty of needs to fill this season, including on the defensive side of the ball. But there is one key player on the offensive side of the ball that will test free-agency and that is wide-out Eric Decker. Decker had a solid 2013 season with quarterback Peyton Manning at the helm, catching 87 passes for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns.
While the production looks great and all, he has Peyton Manning running the offense. Manning can make any wide receiver perform well beyond their expectations as he did when he was a member of the Indianapolis Colts. In his last playing season with the Colts back in 2010, Manning would push Jacob Tamme and Austin Collie above the 500 yards receiving mark. These two weren’t household names but excelled in the up-tempo offense thanks to the sheriff. Tamme would catch 67 passes for 631 yards while Collie caught 58 passes for 649 yards.
If you want even more proof lets take a look back on the 2009 Indianapolis Colts team that finished the regular season 14-2 and made the Super Bowl. Manning would make tight-end Dallas Clark a 1,000 yard receiver, catching 100 passes for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns. Pierre Garcon also thrived in the offensive, catching just 47 passes for 765 yards and 4 touchdowns while Austin Collie caught 60 passes for 676 yards and 7 scores.
Which brings me to the point which is the belief that Eric Decker is just another product of the system like Garcon, Collie, and Clark were. Having an offensive with Peyton Manning in it will push your receivers to their max abilities just as we saw with the 2013 Denver Broncos. They would set multiple records including most points in a single-season while Manning would set the record for most passing yards in a season.
Back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons under a sure hall-of-fame quarterback is impressive and all but Decker is not the kind of receiver you would want to spend number one wide-out type money on. Denver also has to look forward to next offseason which will be more hectic with players like Demaryius Thomas, Von Miller, Wes Welker, and Julius Thomas all being potential free-agents.
The Broncos can find a cheaper, quicker wide receiver in the draft rather than spending top-notch money on a player who dropped 15 passes over the past two seasons. I would not be opposed to bringing Decker back as he had provided a stable receiving core, but it wouldn’t be at the price he is seeking.
Denver has the wide receivers to compete on the offensive side even without Decker lining up. Their main priority as of right now is to retain free-agent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie who revived his career in the Mile High City last season. Denver has inquired about cornerback Darrelle Revis of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but who knows what has happened beyond that.
They will also look to add some playmakers in a depleted secondary which saw Rahim Moore go down for the rest of the 2013 season with a serious leg injury.
Having Eric Decker back in a Denver Broncos uniform in the 2014 season will be a good fit for the Broncos, but as of today, there is no way he will be back with what the asking price is right now. Denver can spend the money that could be used on Decker to address needs the team actually needs.