The decline has come quickly for Eric Decker, and he has announced his retirement from the NFL.
Even as the New England Patriots waived wide receivers and have to deal with Julian Edelman’s suspension to start the season, Eric Decker struggled to stand out this preseason. The writing was pretty clearly on the wall that he wouldn’t make the 53-man roster, and Decker got ahead of it on Sunday by announcing his retirement on Instagram.
Decker entered the NFL as a third-round pick in 2010 out of the University of Minnesota, where he is the school’s all-time leader in receptions (227) and receiving yards (3,119) and sits third all-time in receiving touchdowns (24).
Decker spent his first four NFL seasons with the Denver Broncos. As expected, his numbers spiked when Peyton Manning replaced Tim Tebow in 2012, with back-to-back seasons with at least 85 catches, over 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns.
Decker then moved on to New York Jets as a free agent, totaling 154 catches in 2014 and 2015 in over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns in the latter campaign. But injuries limited him to just three games in 2016, and he was part of the Jets’ purge of veterans in June of 2017.
Decker played all 16 games for the Tennessee Titans last year, but finished with just 54 receptions for 563 yards and one touchdown (a career-low 10.4 yards per catch). As a true sign he was on his last legs as an NFL player, Decker didn’t sign with New England until early August, and his deal included just $75,000 guaranteed.
Somehow, despite some lackluster work during preseason games, Decker’s name had surfaced in trade talks.
Decker deserves credit for knowing when to call it a career, with his health presumably intact, rather than try to hang on when he’s clearly lost a step or two. Eight NFL seasons is a solid, successful career, especially for a kid from Cold Spring, Minnesota who didn’t go to one of the NFL factories in the Big Ten.