December 29, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) congratulates wide receiver Eric Decker (87) on a touchdown during the first quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

AFC West Surveillance: Denver Broncos to let Eric Decker, Others Test Free Agency

Eric Decker is going to be allowed to test free agency, according to Mike Kils of the Denver Post. The report cites John Elway as saying all of the team’s perspective free agents would be allowed to test the market once free agency begins on March 11. The idea of signing anyone to a deal before free agency appears unlikely.

Pre-emptive deals with star players such as wide receiver Decker, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and running back Knowshon Moreno are unlikely. This way, the player and the club will have a better understanding of the player’s market value.

The 6-3, 210-pound Decker has been the team’s second best receiver for the last three years, and should be a huge commodity in free agency. Kils estimates Decker will command a multi-year deal worth somewhere between $7 and $9 million annually. That number could go up if other projected free agent wide receivers are signed to extensions or franchised by their current teams.

Eric Decker has been one of the most productive wide receivers in the NFL the last two seasons.

Eric Decker has been one of the most productive wide receivers in the NFL the last two seasons.

It appears Denver is unlikely to be able to retain most of their top-end free agents, which means they are going to have difficult time finding affordable replacements for them next season. Also, their unwillingness to sign those free agents likely reflects their anticipation of Peyton Manning returning for the 2014 season. Over the Cap has Manning’s cap number listed as $17.5 million for 2014. If that cap number were to be cleared then it is likely Denver would have to money to spend to keep Decker, Moreno, and others.

The situation gets worse for the Broncos. Denver’s list of free agents is filled with starters and key contributors. Aside from Decker, Rodgers-Cromartie, and Moreno, starters Zane Beadles, Shaun Phillips, Mike Adams, and Paris Lenon are free agents. Non-starters, but key contributors, include linebacker Wesley Woodyard, defensive ends Robert Ayers and Jeremy Mincey, wide receiver Andre Caldwell, cornerbacks Quentin Jammer and Marquice Cole, safety Michael Huff, offensive lineman Steve Vallos, and tackle Winston Justice.

While Denver should be able to retain some of these players, bringing them all back is out of the question. Denver is going to have one hick of a time keeping their current standard of play, let alone get better, if they are going to lose their biggest contributors. And, as the Super Bowl would indicate, they definitely need to get better.

Denver has seven picks in May’s draft and will select 31st overall in the first round.

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  • Nicholas Abuhl

    Any thoughts on decker? He’s a solid receiver , but would be pricey.

    • CaliChief83

      I personally would love to add him to our roster. Bowe and Decker would be a great tandem. However, we can not afford him with our current cap situation. Plus, I believe John Dorsey will build our roster through the draft and not make a huge splash in free agency.

      • KCMikeG

        Decker did little before Manning arrived and I look forward to someone else over paying him. We have greater needs that require our money. With Dressler and a rookie draft pick in the mid rounds we will be fine. The production from the WR position will also improve once the TE position is solidified.

        • Troy Utt

          I agree… While the prospect initially sounds good, at second thought you come back to reality & understand that what we need is that pair of hands which is a posession receiver. Dressler could very well fill that role much cheaper than Decker! Which would allow monies to be directed into other area’s of need…

  • Tristian Shelley

    Like how dumb is denver? U know someone will overpay decker and drc for sure and then u lose them. Im not saying either wil be the reason you win a super bowl (as we all saw Sunday night) but im sure you would rather have them than not. At the very least they are above average starters if not potential pro bowlers. But John Elway is an idiot anyway. After giving up 38 points last year and losing to the ravens he decides thr team is missing. ………a slot reciever? Hey John did you come any closer this year? Like did Welker help you stop seattles offense? Or score on thier defense? Offensive based teams dont win championships plain and simple

  • Danny W

    I wouldn’t complain about getting this guy at all. Can you say stretch the field. I’d take him and drop Dexter McCluster in a heart beat. He would be the best white receiver we’ve had since Sean LaShappell.

    • micah stephenson

      So does that mean you didn’t like Chad Hall? Lol

      • Danny W

        Chad Hall was and is never going to be Danny Woodhead, Danny Amendola or Danny W for that matter. How he landed on the 53 is pretty confusing to this gringo.

  • mnelson52

    We can’t afford any of them, but I think Rodgers-Cromartie would be more beneficial to our team than Decker