It just wasn’t happening for Eric Decker with the New England Patriots.
The reports on Decker through camp weren’t positive, and it seemed like at age 31 he was at the end of the line. Decker made it official on Sunday, retiring after an eight-year career spent with the Denver Broncos, New York Jets and Tennessee Titans.
The Patriots have a void at receiver, and that will lead to speculation regarding free-agent Dez Bryant.
Dez Bryant remains unsigned
Bryant has been unsigned since April. He visited the Cleveland Browns, but then Josh Gordon came back to the team and Bryant became less of a priority. It seemed, once it didn’t work out for the Browns right away, Bryant’s best chance was to wait for an injury and then sign with a team in need.
Decker didn’t get injured, but the Patriots have a need.
Julian Edelman will be suspended the first four weeks. Kenny Britt was recently cut. Cordarrelle Patterson has never been much of a factor at receiver, though he’s a very good returner. Phillip Dorsett has never been productive in the NFL.
Other than Chris Hogan, the Patriots don’t have a ton at the receiver position at the moment. And there’s a former Pro Bowler looking for a job.
Bryant seems to want to land in New England
As USA Today pointed out, Bryant seemed to be dropping hints that he wanted to land on the Patriots recently. He complimented Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in the comments of an Instagram post. Why wouldn’t Bryant want to land on the Patriots, in a great offense with the most accomplished quarterback in NFL history?
We’ll see how desperate the Patriots are. Signing Bryant now, after three preseason games are in the books, probably means he won’t be up to speed in a new offense before the end of September. That doesn’t make sense for the Patriots, who need to cover four games without Edelman. The Patriots also would have to wonder about Bryant’s fit in the locker room.
For many of the same reasons it didn’t make any sense for the Browns to sign Bryant, it doesn’t seem like the most seamless move for the Patriots to get Bryant. He’d need to get in football shape and learn a new offense that has been tough for even longtime veterans to figure out. New England has known it was thin at receiver for a while, and hadn’t signed Bryant. So why now? It seems like a long shot.
Eric Decker retires after a solid eight-year career
Decker’s retirement shouldn’t have come as a shock, considering he looked like he lost a step last season with the Titans. He knew it was time to step away.
Decker finishes with 5,816 yards and 53 touchdowns, a fine career for the third-round pick from the 2010 draft. His peak came in 2013 when he scored 11 touchdowns and had 1,288 yards for a record-breaking Broncos offense, and helped the team win an AFC championship.
It’s not like the Patriots should have been depending on Decker, but his retirement leaves a hole at receiver. Now the question is, how will they fill it?
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