As a University of Minnesota alum and huge fan of Eric Decker and the wide receiver position in general, you’d think that I would’ve written a few articles about where Decker fits on the Vikings offense by now (Since the Jets announced that they want to release or trade the star receiver this week). While I would love to have Decker play for his home state team, I just don’t see where he would fit on this Vikings offense and don’t believe that, while the Vikings can afford him, it’d be a spend at a position that they don’t need further investment at this point.
Apparently, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman feels the same way. After basically every Vikings site covered the Decker move, Spielman spoke with Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press and said the following about Decker (And the wide receiver position).
“We always look at everybody that is released, but we feel pretty confident with our receiving corps right now, just watching Stefon Diggs [and] Adam Thielen. . . . Laquon Treadwell is totally different [from 2016]. . . . And to pick up a Michael Floyd, he’s been real impressive.”
This is further validation that Laquon Treadwell has been impressive so far in this years OTA’s. That’s amazing news and is something that I talked about with Andy Carlson on this week’s Purple FTW! podcast. The fact is, the Vikings are not only set at wide receiver, but stacked at the position. While it’s a good position to be in, they will definitely have to part ways with at least one good to great receiver (Whether it’s an established veteran or exciting prospect) at the end of the off-season, maybe two. Spielman continues:
“Jarius Wright, he’s been kind of a forgotten man, but he’s out there making plays every day and we have two rookies that are pretty impressive so far [in Rodney Adams and Stacy Coley]. So we feel pretty confident at this point where our depth is at that position, that we do have some weapons. . . . But you never know. We always keep the door open for everybody.’’
Had the Vikings not added troubled wide receiver Michael Floyd recently, Decker may have been on their an option (Or perhaps recently cut former Eagles and Chiefs receiver Jeremy Maclin could’ve as well) for them. While Decker is a beast, he does have a similar skill-set to players on the Vikings roster, as a neo-possession guy who has a nose for the end-zone. While Decker is an upgrade over someone like, Adam Thielen, he’s still a lot more expensive and 30 years old (to Thielen’s 26). Thielen also, at least according to him, hasn’t reached his ceiling as a player yet. He’s about to enter what is considered the physical prime of a football player/human man (Around 27 years), and has said this off-season he’s trying to improve his game in every way. So, by spending around ten million (or more) for a receiver who is older, and historically a lot better than Thielen… A year after Thielen broke out. Makes no sense. Especially since it sounds like teams are biting on the trade side of things, as it’s being reported that the Ravens are interested in trading for the receiver.
While my analysis above makes it sound like I’m implying that Thielen would be cut in favor of Decker. That’d never happen and was not what I meant. But considering how similar their games are, it’d push Thielen down on the depth chart and that’s just a waste of a player who is essentially a younger Decker. I really do believe that Vikings are set at the receiver position and that Michael Floyd will surprise everyone and be a huge part of this offense. I’ve heard from other Vikings writers/podcasters that Floyd was sort of a novelty pick-up because he’s a local guy and he was cheap and thus he won’t really be that big of a contributor, especially with a suspension on the horizon. I don’t agree with that assessment, outside of the suspension. I mean, the fact that Floyd is from St. Paul certainly had something to do with it, but the Vikings wouldn’t have brought on that baggage if they didn’t think that Floyd could(n’t) bring something to the offense that it needs. Only two receivers have had more down the field targets the past few seasons than Floyd. He’s a physical beast that is hyper talented (Although, inconsistent) and considering the fact that the Vikings offense has been missing a deep threat at the receiver position since Mike Wallace left and you get where my thought process is. Considering the coverage that’s needed for other players on the Vikings offense (Diggs, Thielen, Cook) Floyd could be single covered and thus wide open this season, something that should excite every fan of the purple and gold and terrify the defensive coordinators in the NFC North.
So, while I’d love to see Decker in the colors he was born to wear, I just don’t see how that’ll work. While that’s sad for him (and also my favorite, Mortiz Boehringer, who Spielman didn’t mention while talking about the position, which is bad news for him), he will get paid and end up on whichever team he wants (Potentially a contender, like the Patriots, like as we talked about on the PurpleFTW! Podcast, a team/town that loves their white wide receivers). The fact that the Vikings don’t need Decker is a great sign that the team is onto something special, as they were incredibly thin at the position as recently as last season. So, while it’s a temporary let-down, the long term reality is one that shows that this team is on the precipice of greatness. Which, as a (now) 33 year old Vikings fan, both terrifies and excites me at the same time (Like dating your cousin, which is illegal in Minnesota but legal in Wisconsin. Which, explains so much about Packers fans).