Tennessee Titans: Eric Decker moves the needle very little

June 19, 2017

The Tennessee Titans have signed Eric Decker, but the veteran wide receiver doesn’t do much to move the needle in Nashville for 2017 and beyond.

Eric Decker’s future was put into question thanks to the youth movement of the New York Jets. Gang Green have been on a veteran-cutting spree this offseason. The latest of those was the 30-year old wide receiver who struggled with injuries one year ago. After saying they’d try to trade him, they found no takers and ultimately released him.

Fans of essentially every team around the league pondered the possibility of bringing Decker in. While there were plenty of suitors, however, the only team he met with of late was the Tennessee Titans. He spent a fair amount of time meeting and taking a physical in Nashville. However, days passed and there was no deal.

That changed on Sunday. NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport was the first to report that the Tennessee Titans have signed Decker to a one-year deal:

#Titans agreed to terms with Eric Decker on a 1 yr deal, source said.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 18, 2017

Rapaport followed that up by saying that the Titans were Decker’s first choice, noting that Marcus Mariota has another weapon to work with now.

Superficially, signing Decker for the 2017 season might seem like a big move for the Titans. They’re a team on the rise and giving Mariota another weapon to work with on offense could be huge. However, if you start to dig a little deeper, the move might not actually move the needle as much as some might think.

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Taking health out of the question — though it’s a concern at this point with Decker — where does Decker fit in the pecking order for Tennessee? After the Titans took Corey Davis with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Western Michigan product almost has to play as the team’s WR1. Meanwhile, Rishard Matthews was phenomenal as the No. 2 last season opposite of Kendal Wright. If Davis is as good as advertised, the former Dolphin could be even better in 2017.

If you’re thinking well, he could be the WR3 for the Titans, that’s probably the case. However, the Titans, frankly, don’t run a great deal of three-wide receiver sets. Relying heavily on the run, Tennessee very often runs out of two-wide receiver, two-tight end sets. With a reliable weapon such as Delanie Walker, that set makes sense for setting up everything that they like to do in Mike Mularkey’s “Exotic Smashmouth.”

Thus, Decker comes in looking as if he’s not going to see the field all that often. While that’s fine and he’s high-quality depth, his impact is likely going to be overblown. If the Titans operate wisely, he should be third on their wide receiver depth chart, which schematically means he’ll likely be on the sidelines more often than not.

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Especially on a one-year deal, this is far from being a bad signing. If Davis or Matthews were to get injured, he’s a fantastic option to slot in. What’s more, he’ll be great when the Titans do run three-wide. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that this signing moves the needle all that much for a 100 percent healthy roster. In short, it doesn’t at all.

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