Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Jets to host Decker in unofficial FA 'visit'
By Rich Cimini
One of the benefits to hosting a conference champion at your facility during the run-up to the Super Bowl is being able to show off your digs to potential free agents. In real-estate terms, it's like an open house: Come on in, check us out and see if you can envision yourself here.
The AFC champion Denver Broncos have a player who might draw interest from the New York Jets in free agency -- wide receiver Eric Decker.
For four days next week, Decker and his teammates will practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, N.J., a 224,000 square-foot facility on a 27-acre campus. The players won't have full access inside the building -- some areas are off-limits -- but they certainly will get a good feel for the place, which includes a 5,500 square-foot locker room, five practice fields and a massive field house. For Decker, it'll be like an extended free-agent visit, with non-verbal recruiting.
No doubt, coordinator Marty Mornhinweg would like to have a receiver of Decker's ilk in his offense -- young (27 in March), athletic and big (6-foot-3). The Jets have similar players in Stephen Hill and David Nelson, but Hill has been a disappointment. Nelson is a keeper; it'll be up to them to decide if they believe he can prosper in a prominent role.
Over the last two seasons, Decker has 172 receptions for 2,352 yards, ranking 11th and ninth in the league, respectively. Interested teams will have to address two big questions about him: How much of his production is due to Peyton Manning's brilliance? Is he good enough to be a No. 1 receiver?
No doubt, Decker has benefitted greatly from having Manning, not to mention fellow receiver Demaryius Thomas on the other side. But Decker's ascent started pre-Manning, in 2011, when he scored nine touchdowns in his first full season as a starter.
And that came with Tim Tebow throwing the ball. If he can score nine times with Tebow ... well, you can fill in the rest.