Eric Decker will be the next victim of the Jets' roster purge.
The veteran wide receiver, who is rehabbing from both hip and shoulder surgeries, has been told that he will either be traded or released this week, according to Jets GM Mike Maccagnan. He announced the move a short time after it was confirmed in a Twitter post from Decker's wife.
The Jets are not expected to release Decker on Wednesday and are hoping to trade him instead, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.
At this point, the move with Decker was hardly a surprise considering Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has been on quite the roster-cutting spree this offseason. He shocked everyone, including apparently his own head coach, on Tuesday afternoon when he cut veteran linebacker David Harris after a voluntary offseason practice.
Harris was released after his agent and Maccagnan failed to reach an agreement on a pay cut from his salary of $6.5 million. Soon after that move was official, reporters asked Jets coach Todd Bowles if the Jets had engaged in similar talks with the 30-year-old Decker, who was due a salary of $7.25 million this year and carried a cap number of $8.75 million.
Bowles said he was "not sure."
It's unclear if the Jets did discuss a pay cut with Decker, but if he's cut his $7.25 million salary is wiped off the books leaving just $1.5 million in dead money on the cap in each of the next two years. If he's traded, the dead money jumps to $3 million, and the cap savings drops to $5.75 million this year.
The Tuesday moves could leave the Jets with more than $20 million in salary cap space - all of which they are able to carry over to next year.
Decker, like Harris, took part in the Jets' voluntary organized team activity (OTA) practice on Tuesday, perhaps unaware of his impending fate. He has looked healthy this spring and even was allowed to practice without the red, "no contact" jersey usually given to injured or rehabbing players. He only wore that during team drills.
Sometime after it was over, though, the Jets told him of their plans. And shortly after the news broke, his wife took to Twitter to say goodbye.
Thanks Jets for being so welcoming to us over the past few years! We will miss you guys!!! We had some great memories and loved the fans❤❤❤- Jessie James Decker (@JessieJDecker) June 6, 2017
Decker was loved by the fans too, especially after his monster season in 2015, when he caught 80 passes for 1,027 yards. But injuries last season limited him to just three games and nine catches for 194 yards.
With Decker now on his way out, and Brandon Marshall having been released in February, the Jets are suddenly left with a very inexperienced receiver group. Quincy Enunwa, who had 58 catches for 857 yards and four touchdowns last season, would apparently be their No. 1 receiver. They also have high hopes for Robby Anderson (42-587-2), Charone Peake (19-186) and maybe even Jalin Marshall (14-162-2). They also drafted Alabama receiver ArDarius Stewart and Cal receiver Chad Hansen in the third and fourth rounds of the NFL draft this year.
The first person I heard talking about the potential for Eric Decker's release by the Jets was Matthew Kelley of PlayerProfiler.com months ago. We talked about it shortly thereafter on the podcast as a possibility, but even then I only half-believed the Jets would get through the NFL Draft and think about pulling a Philadelphia 76ers on the 2017 season. While releasing Decker months back seemed a distant possibility at the time, I could at least see the logic. Releasing Decker now frees up roughly $7 million in cap space for the Jets, which they can roll over into 2018 and which provides a "double bounce" cap-wise for the team as Decker is the third highest contract the Jets currently slated for 2018 at $9 million. Removing Decker's deal will put the Jets close to $75 million in cap space in 2018 as they seek to start afresh.
Since Decker has only been with the team a few years, I find myself less willing to get out the soap box in regards to the team doing him wrong by letting him go at this time of year. Even so, it is a bad look for the Jets front office, which I will blame on the Jets *not* coming away with a QB they felt they could turn this team over to and use Decker as a mentor to a young signal caller. Decker has been a very productive player over the course of his career and whoever winds up signing him will get an immediate upgrade in their offense. Since the source who leaked the story was Schefter, this feels like an agent trying to get out ahead of the story and also send signals to teams who might have interest in Jeremy Maclin.