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Zulgad: Vikings would be wise to add Eric Decker to their wide receiver mix

Feb 24, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings have not approached Sam Bradford about a contract extension this offseason, but they have taken steps to give the veteran quarterback every chance to show that he deserves to be the franchise’s long-term solution at the position.

This includes the addition of free agents at left (Riley Reiff) and right tackle (Mike Remmers), a shuffling at running back, where veteran Latavius Murray will provide far better pass protection than Adrian Peterson ever did and rookie Dalvin Cook will be counted on to provide the explosiveness for which Peterson was once known. Both should be able to catch the ball out of the backfield.

The Vikings also signed free agent wide receiver Michael Floyd to pair with Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Laquon Treadwell. General manager Rick Spielman added wide receivers Rodney Adams and Stacy Coley in the later rounds of this year’s draft. Another option at the position hit the market on Monday afternoon when former Gopher Eric Decker was released by the New York Jets.

The Vikings would be foolish not to seriously consider the Cold Spring, Minn., native. According to OverTheCap.com, the Vikings have $13.9 million in cap space so they would have room to sign Decker.

The Jets told Decker last week that they would either trade or release him. A deal with Baltimore had appeared possible but that option disappeared when free agent Jeremy Maclin signed a two-year deal with the Ravens on Monday.

Shortly thereafter, the Jets announced that Decker had been released in a move that will take $7.25 million off the payroll of a team that clearly has little interest in trying to win games in 2017.

The 30-year-old Decker is coming off a season in which he played only three games because of a torn rotator cuff and a torn labrum in his hip. He had surgery on both but, according to ESPN, had returned ahead of schedule and had been practicing throughout Organized Team Activities.

Decker played his first four seasons with the Denver Broncos before signing a five-year, $36.25 contract with the Jets in 2014. He had 74 receptions for 962 yards with five touchdowns in his first season with New York and followed that with 80 catches for 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2015.

Decker getting a clean bill of health will be the most important thing. He played in all 16 games in each of his final three seasons with Denver and then appeared in 15 games in each of his first two years in New York.

Decker, who is 6-3, 214 pounds, would provide Bradford with a big target in the red zone and give the quarterback a better chance to be successful in the final season of his contract.

Diggs is the Vikings’ top wide receiver but he is coming off a season in which he was slowed for much of the year by a nagging groin injury. He still finished with 84 receptions for 903 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games. Thielen also emerged in his third NFL season, catching 69 passes for 967 yards and five touchdowns in 16 games.

The biggest question marks for the Vikings are Floyd and Treadwell.

Floyd signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with Minnesota in May after finishing last season in New England. Floyd, a first-round pick by the Cardinals in 2012, was released by Arizona last Dec. 14 following a drunken driving arrest.

He is expected to be suspended by the NFL for an undetermined amount of games to begin the season, although nothing has been announced. The Vikings are hoping Floyd can make a contribution and get his life on track but his one-year contract is a sign that this is a trial.

The Vikings appear confident that Treadwell, their first-round pick in 2016, will take a significant step forward after a very disappointing rookie season in which he had only one reception and was targeted on three passes.

If the Vikings were just hoping to make a playoff run, this group of receivers might be good enough. But with the Super Bowl scheduled to be played at U.S. Bank Stadium in February, and Vikings’ ownership feeling this team should be able to make a run at playing in that game, hoping that everyone stays healthy, or that Floyd can rebound and Treadwell can make big strides, is taking a risk.

Decker’s presence could help lessen that risk and give Bradford a valuable target.

  • Topgunn

    I would LOVE to see the Vikings sign Decker. Big fan of his when he played at the U of Mn. and he’s been consistently productive in the NFL. He’s a player the team and fans can count on.

  • MarkWattsMN

    “According to OverTheCap.com, the Vikings have $13.9 million in cap space so they would have room to sign Decker.”

    Then do they have room to extend Xavier right now?

    I get the “one of us” angle but he’s another #2 / #3 receiver that the Vikes would be adding to the pile of #2 / #3 receivers.

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  • Joe Kubiszewski

    That would be the dumbest thing that we could do, he’s a number 2/3 receiver at best and injury prone, we have tons of young receiver talent with upside on this year’s draft picks, with thielen,diggs, wright and Treadwell and what Adams is doing and looking like we are set for years, I don’t even think Floyd should make the team after watching the receivers at otas, just another stupid take, I’m surprised you haven’t said we should pick up kapernick too,

  • brian199511

    A guy who played three games last year would be a wise signing. The irony is so thick you could cut it with a knife.

  • LJ

    I am not a big fan of going after Decker. With the remaining cap space the team should either resign some of their own upcoming free agents or use it to take on another vet at corner or at offensive tackle. Would love to see the team make a move for a player like LT Joe Staley in a deal with the 49ers. Improve the talent on the starting o-line and push Reiff to RT. This allows Remmers to go to the bench and gives the team some actual depth at tackle especially since Speilman didn’t draft a developmental player at tackle in 2017. Give the 49ers a high pick in 2018 that they could use as draft capital to move up and get their next QB. Would beat trying to go into free agency to find another tackle again next off season

    • cka2nd

      The chance that the Vikings are going to go out and try to shake up both offensive tackle spots during the same off-season that they just signed two new offensive tackles is between zero and none, thank the gods.

  • hugh mann

    He’s been a solid receiver who is now on the down slope of his career. Doesn’t make much, if any sense to sign him.

  • Joseph Vogel

    I do not understand how this fits with the roster.
    Assume the Vikings end up carrying 6 receivers:
    1. Diggs
    2. Thielen
    3. Treadwell
    4. Floyd
    5. Adams (R)
    6. Coley (R)
    7. Wright
    8. MoBo
    9. Others

    As is, looks like Wright is going to be traded or cut.

    Ok, Sports Grinch. Who of the top 6 above do you recommend the Vikings cut or put on the practice squad if they sign Decker? Note: Adams is likely to be the kickoff returner so he has to be on the roster.

  • Malcolm Cloud

    D-back, D-back, D-back!!!

  • cka2nd

    Let me say first that I wanted to sign Brandon Marshall, a true #1 wide receiver with the size and strength to win the battles for jump balls and touchdowns, and to literally push the best cornerbacks in the league around. With Marshall off the market, I didn’t have a problem with the Michael Floyd signing since he brought a unique blend of size and speed to the position. I like Decker. I like him even more after checking his stats when he was catching passes from Tim Tebow and a Ryan Fitzgerald NOT having a career season. If we didn’t have either Treadwell or Floyd, I’d be all over him. If I thought Floyd was facing a year-long suspension, I’d be all over Decker. But at this point, with four veteran receivers, last year’s first rounder, two 2017 draftees and a freakishly athletic MoBo, at least three of whom could be stashed on the Practice Squad, I just don’t see the need to reach out to Decker, or any other free agent wideout.

  • fritzdahmus

    sign him, all we have is Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and lot’s of hope. I hope Treadwell turns out great…Floyd can go away.

    Decker, Stefon Diggs, and Adam Thielen have done it and will probably do it again this year. Decker has great hands….he does get injured though.

  • Matt

    No they shouldn’t (didn’t even read the article because it wasn’t necessary)

  • Gordon Guffey

    Jugghead you just dont get it ~ We Viking fans know your a Packer fan ~ Go away please ~

  • Gordon Guffey

    Eric Decker visiting Titans Wednesday

    Decker’s wife Jessie is a country music artist and the couple has a home in the city.

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2017/06/14/eric-decker-visiting-titans-wednesday/





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