The Patriots have been shopping for wide receivers, and they added a veteran presence on Thursday.
Reports out of New England indicate that Eric Decker is being signed to a one-year deal. The veteran has spent time with the Broncos, Jets, and more recently the Tennessee Titans. Decker worked with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in 2010. Decker has battled injuries over the last two seasons, but is not far off from a 12 TD season with the Jets in 2015.
The news comes the same day that a former Patriots is a free agent. Brandon LaFell has been a veteran presence in the Bengals locker room for the previous two seasons, but he was granted release from the club on Thursday. According to his agent, LaFell had been “lobbying for his release for some time now.” LaFell has been an underwhelming second option in Cincinnati, compiling 116 catches and 9 touchdowns. He had previously spent two seasons in New England, where he was effective in 2014 before an injury-shortened 2015.
The addition comes as the injuries pile up for New England’s wideouts. Julian Edelman is healthy, but he’ll start the season suspended. Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola left in the offseason, leaving open targets in the offense. Offseason signing Jordan Matthews was expected to contribute, but he’s been placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. Malcolm Mitchell didn’t play a snap last season, and has been injured to start training camp.
As of Thursday, the Patriots starting receivers include Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson and Miami rookie Braxton Berrios.
According to ESPN fantasy expert Mike Clay, Decker is projected to catch 44 catches for 546 yards and five touchdowns.