The Patriots are a model NFL franchise but that doesn’t make them immune to injury. Eric Decker may be signed to provide the Pats much-needed depth.
Julian Edelman’s four-game suspension isn’t the only wide receiver issue going on in New England. Jordan Matthews’ hamstring issue is also causing the Patriots front office to consider making some changes to the roster.
NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport believes Bill Belichick and company may choose to add Eric Decker to give their receiving corps some depth. He wasn’t great for the Titans last season, but he did contribute 54 catches and 563 yards for a very vanilla offense. It’s conceivable he could emerge as a quality safety valve for Tom Brady this season.
If Matthews is forced to miss significant time, expect Cordarrelle Patterson to get an opportunity to take his place. He’s been an excellent kick returner in his NFL career, but has never been able to make a real impact as a wideout. Most scouts believe he struggles to grasp the intricacies of pro offenses. Time will tell whether or not playing with Brady makes those alleged deficiencies disappear.
If the Patriots do add Decker, don’t expect it be anything other than a one-year deal. It was pretty clear during his brief stint with the Titans that he’s lost a step or two. Speed was never Decker’s strong suit, but you can only be so slow if you want to excel as an NFL wide receiver. He’s clearly toeing that line at this point in his career.
It’s not inconceivable that Belichick could use Decker as a tight end hybrid as well. Rob Gronkowski isn’t going anywhere this season, but Decker has the size to play that kind of slot position in the Patriots offense. Given New England’s affinity for two tight-end sets, it’s possible Decker could line up opposite Gronkowski on those occasions.
In the end, Decker isn’t going to revolutionize the Patriots offense, but he can provide adequate cover while Edelman and Matthews are out. It’s not a sexy signing for New England, but that’s not exactly how they operate.