The market for wide receivers in the NFL has just heated up in a big way. Former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin hit the free agent market, and today, the New York Jets told wide receiver Eric Decker that he will either be traded or released. While many of us in Baltimore have clamored for Maclin to sign a deal with the Ravens, it is actually Decker who makes more sense for the Ravens.
Maclin was described as a good fit because of his familiarity with Ravens offensive coordinator, but Decker’s skill set better suits what the Ravens have been looking for.
As of 7:45 p.m. EST on Tuesday June 6th, Jeremy Maclin is still meeting with the Buffalo Bills, and could possibly sign a deal with the team before leaving the city. Just a few hours ago, this seemed like a worst case scenario for the Ravens, but now it may not be all that bad. As the Bills have significantly more cap room than the Ravens, Buffalo will be able to outbid Baltimore for Maclin.
Decker, on the other hand, will likely fit better with the cap room that the Ravens have; a measly $3.6 million. Decker is coming off a 2016 season in which he only played three games due to injury. This will hurt Decker’s value on the open market. In fact, the Ravens would likely be able to sign him to a small one year prove-it deal. A similar option might not be applicable to Maclin.
That is assuming that the Jets choose to release Decker instead of trading him. A trade for Decker probably wouldn’t cost the Ravens anything more than a fifth or sixth round pick, and maybe a player lower on the depth chart. The 2018 draft will provide the Ravens as good an opportunity as ever to draft the heir to Joe Flacco, but giving up a fifth or sixth round pick will not hinder that, and it will help the Ravens win in the present instead of focusing solely on the future.
In addition, Decker is a possession wide receiver who knows how to find the end zone, two traits that the Ravens will put at the top of the priorities list. In his career, Decker has had three seasons where he scored at least 11 touchdowns, most recently scoring 12 in 2015. Decker’s skills a possession receiver compliments the speed the Ravens have in Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman well. Decker will go over the middle and make tough catches in traffic, as he did here against the Bills in 2015. Decker is a reliable chain mover, averaging 13.6 yards per catch over the course of his career. Finally, Decker has had over 960 yards in four of the last five seasons, three of which were over 1,000 yards (2012, 2013 and 2015).
Jeremy Maclin is a great receiver, and it is being shown by how much interest has been generated in him. However, his game is more predicated on taking screen passes upfield, and that doesn’t entirely solve the Ravens need for a chain mover, but Decker does.
For the Ravens, a team that loves to make shrewd moves, the best option is to stay away from the bigger name, but instead stick with the option that not only makes more economic sense, but also makes better football sense. That option is Eric Decker.