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NFL Free Agency 2014: Cleveland Browns and Wide Receiver Eric Decker: A possible match

The Browns will likely make an offer to Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker if the team fails to re-sign him. (January 18, 2014 - Source: Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America)
The Browns will likely make an offer to Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker if the team fails to re-sign him. (January 18, 2014 – Source: Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America)

When the Cleveland Browns hired Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan, it became clear that the Browns will use the west coast system this year. This will likely attract some big name wide receivers like Denver Broncos Eric Decker.

Decker is expected to enter free agency and the Browns new offensive style favors Decker. The Browns also need depth at the position and Decker is a perfect fit for them. Peyton Manning’s second favorite target caught 87 passes for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Decker was expected to establish such numbers at some point. He was a key offensive threat, a true cog wheel in the Minnesota Golden Gopher’s system. He is now polished with four years of NFL experience, two with Manning.

Pairing Decker with Josh Gordon and perhaps Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel could turn this offense of sitting ducks into an electric, playoff caliber offensive unit in just one season. Many NFL fans will laugh at that notion. Decker is just one player and it takes more than player to make an offensive unit effective. It is easy to forget that the larger principle matters. Part of the larger principle in this case is signing Decker would be one of several key moves via free agency and the draft. The other part is changing the culture, mindset and image of the losing team.

One key free agent acquisition of the last three years occurred when the Baltimore Ravens signed Anquan Boldin. This move effectively energized the Ravens offense and fan base. The signing of Boldin changed everything. The Browns can make a similar move and experience the same effect as long as they continue to revamp the offense.

Just think about the Browns signing Decker then adding Manziel or Bortles followed by Marqise Lee or Allen Robinson. Let’s see how this looks.

Scenario 1

QB Blake Bortles

WR Eric Decker

WR Josh Gordon

WR Marqise Lee

Scenario 2

QB Blake Bortles

WR Eric Decker

WR Josh Gordon

WR Allen Robinson

Scenario 3

QB Johnny Manziel

WR Eric Decker

WR Josh Gordon

WR Marqise Lee

Scenario 4

QB Blake Bortles

WR Eric Decker

WR Josh Gordon

WR Allen Robinson

The Browns have approximately $46 million in cap space and have the ability to offer Decker a $7-12 million deal, likely with a signing bonus. Signing Decker would be a huge win for the Browns and the disgruntled fan base. The fans would be energized and would likely change their minds about heading to Columbus to watch a winning football team. Signing Decker would be the beginning a new age, another era in which winning is way of life. The front office would prove they are finally serious about ending the season with a winning record and threatening to win the team’s first Super Bowl.

For every story there is a beginning. Decker could be the beginning of a surprising new chapter in Cleveland sports. It will likely take a contract offer of $10-12 million for 4 or more years to have a serious chance of landing Decker.

 


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