Eric Decker still falls shy of top WR status

Eric Decker | New York Jets

Eric Decker's contract with the Jets was a much-needed addition to a mediocre group of receivers. But with uncertainty at quarterback, New York shouldn't expect anything close to his 2013 numbers.

Eric Decker may have been arguably the best free agent wide receiver available this offseason, but the Jets shouldn't expect a repeat of his 2013 campaign with the Denver Broncos.

Decker finished last season with career-highs in receptions, total yards and yards per game, but it's unlikely the fifth-year receiver will put up similar numbers as the No. 1 receiver in New York.

In his four seasons with the Broncos, Decker has seen both poor and great quarterback play. His production nearly doubled in 2011 when the Broncos signed Peyton Manning.

In 2010 with Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton at quarterback, Decker caught just 44 passes for 612 yards and eight touchdowns. With Manning throwing the passes, Decker caught 172 passes for 2,352 yards and 24 touchdowns over the past two seasons.

Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg says Geno Smith, not Michael Vick, will take the first-team snaps in OTAs—likely won't be as erratic as Tebow and Orton were, but he might not be much better. Smith completed just 55.8 percent of his passes last year for 3,046 yards, 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. Orton and Tebow combined to complete 50 percent of their passes for 2,708 yards, 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2010.

Another concern for Decker is the fact that he has never been the top receiver on his team and has rarely been covered by the top cornerback for the other team. Over the last two seasons, Decker has played all 32 regular season games with Demaryius Thomas on the other side of the field and last season with Wes Welker in the slot.

But while Decker hasn't had to beat the top corner on defense much, he's performed well against some of the NFL's top secondaries. In 2013, Decker went over 100 yards receiving in three of the four games the Broncos played against top-15 pass defenses with his only poor game coming against Baltimore in Week 1.

Overall, however, Decker could be a huge hit or a big miss. He's shown the ability to have huge seasons, but has always done so with a top quarterback and one of the league's top receivers opposite him. Decker will be sure to get the bulk of targets this season, though, as Santonio Holmes was cut and Jeremy Kerley led a poor group of receivers last season with just 43 receptions for 523 yards and three touchdowns.

Decker certainly has the potential to be a top-10 receiver this season based on the number of targets he'll receive. But with Geno Smith or Michael Vick throwing those passes, the Jets shouldn't count on anything close to last season in 2014.

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