Eric Decker Announces Retirement. Who is Going to Catch Passes for the Patriots?

Okay, now I’m officially nervous. Eric Decker announced his retirement last night and posted the following message on Instagram.

All training camp and preseason I’ve been saying don’t worry about the receiver depth and that the Patriots will figure out a way to patch everything together for the first month until Julian Edelman returns. Then Malcolm Mitchell got cut. Then Jordan Matthews got cut. Then Kenny Britt got cut. Then Eric Decker retired.

Shit.

People obviously weren’t as high on Decker as I was, but I viewed him as a proven veteran who could catch the ball, no more no less. He definitely struggled in his short stint with the Patriots though as he was dropping lots of passes.

I still think Decker would have been able to right the ship. Maybe he’s not blowing by guys off the line anymore, but you don’t just lose the ability to catch the ball overnight. And for a guy that had four 80+ catch seasons I would have given him the benefit of the doubt. But maybe the Pats saw the writing on the wall. With all the drops it looked like Decker may have been on the outside looking in on Brady’s circle of trust. Once that happens its hard to get back in.

Former players were saying that Decker was thinking too much as he was trying to digest the Patriots playbook and was thinking more about where he was supposed to be rather than just catching the ball. Well it would seem like Belichick was over it and was going to cut Decker, but gave him the option to “go out on his own terms” and retire instead, which is exactly what Decker did.

Well now the Patriots receiving corps looks like this:

  • Chris Hogan
  • Phillip Dorsett
  • Cordarrelle Patterson
  • Braxton Berrios
  • Devin Lucien
  • Riley McCarron
  • Paul Turner (aka Paul Turner the IT Guy, or “something called Paul Turner” as Big Jim Murray nicknamed him)
  • Matthew Slater

That is not exactly confidence inspiring. And no, bringing in Dez Bryant is not the solution here, but hell if I know what that answer is.

Not all these guys are even a lock to make the roster and Doug Kyed over at NESN thinks the Pats might only keep 4 receivers total, which includes special teams captain Matthew Slater, and just try to stay above water until Edelman returns from suspension.

I can’t say I’m okay with the Pats slotting in Matthew Slater as the No. 4 WR as we’ve all seen what Slater can(not) do as a pure receiver.

The Pats may just lean on the deep RB group that they have, but even half of those guys are dealing with injuries. Rex Burkhead has missed some time with a tear in his knee, although reports have said he’ll be able to play through it. First round pick Sony Michel remains sidelined with his own knee injury too. Suddenly the RB depth isn’t what it appeared to be a few weeks ago.

Belichick and co. seem to like what they have at the TE position with Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, and Jacob Hollister has made headlines this preseason for his play. So the Madden expert that I am would not be surprised to see a lot of James White screens and 2 and 3TE sets to start the season for the Patriots.

I honestly doubt the Pats bring in anyone from the FA scrap heap at this point in the season. They’re more likely to see who may be available on the trade block as they did last year with Phillip Dorsett. The hot rumor this past week has the Patriots eyeing Denver’s Demaryius Targaryen, er, Thomas. I would be fine with that if the price is right, plus he’s a big dude at 6’3″, but at $8.5M I can’t see Belichick taking that on as is.

We’ll see what the Patriots do, but either way its time to start battening down the hatches as the regular season kicks off Sunday, Sept. 9th at 1 pm.

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