Despite an overwhelmingly positive resume to this point with the Tennessee Titans, Jon Robinson may have misfired signing Eric Decker.
Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson has pushed a lot of the right buttons in his two years with the team. His offseason moves a year ago — including trading for running back DeMarco Murray — helped the Titans to their first winning season since 2011. The Titans made an improvement of six wins to go 9-7 after a 3-13 campaign in 2015.
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And Robinson continued with yet another strong offseason this year, bringing in free agents such as corner Logan Ryan and safety Johnathan Cyprien. Then, in the draft, he landed receiver Corey Davis while also adding a number of other young playmakers as well. Robinson seemed to have the golden touch.
Until this past week.
Robinson apparently got caught in a bidding war against himself for the services of wide receiver Eric Decker. The Titans signed Decker to a one-year deal worth a reported $3.85 million. The deal also includes up to $1.5 million in incentives. In the grand scheme of things, $4-5 million isn’t all that much, especially considering the Titans have more than $40 million in cap space.
But how Decker fits into the equation with the Titans — especially on a one-year deal — is a big deal.
While Decker has three 1,000-yard campaigns under his belt in his seven-year career, he also just turned 30. And he’s coming off shoulder and hip injuries that limited him to just three games in 2016. Both injuries required surgery. While there is little to be lost financially if Decker doesn’t work out, what he can cost the team’s promising group of young receivers could be huge.
Having already missed all of the offseason workouts, Decker will need plenty of reps in training camp to get up to speed. Davis, the fifth pick in the draft, is sure to get his work. But how many reps will Decker’s presence cost promising young receivers Tajae Sharpe and Taywan Taylor? That’s where Decker’s presence on the team could wind up hurting the Titans in the long run.
And honestly, was his presence needed? Rishard Matthews emerged as a after a slow start in 2016 and is no worse than a No. 2 receiver. The team drafted Davis where it did because it feels he can be a No. 1. And tight end Delanie Walker remains one of the best receivers at his position in the game.
Certainly, Marcus Mariota won’t mind having Decker around. But there is, after all, only one football. And the Titans remain a run-first team. Decker is a luxury item that could, in the long run, retard the progress of the young receivers in which the team has invested.