by Mario "Game" Granata
With players seemingly going to greener pastures, sometimes the ride is more bumpy then they expect. Eric Decker has ventured out to gauge his true worth, but will this play for more money backfire on him?
That ever so fun part of the year for football fans, where free agency hits, and fans look to their organizations to make a splash to either help rebuild their team, or help their team stay at the top. For some teams, they look to improve their offense, and with the NFL being as “pass happy” as ever, the wide receiver position was garnering a lot of interest when March 11th hit. More notably, was to the landing spot for one Eric Decker. Now many writers and analysts were debating on if Decker is a sure fire #1 or a high #2 receiver. Although he was able to catch 85 and 87 passes the past two seasons, more of the focus should be on the trigger-man of the Denver offense and not Decker. Now, I am not taking anything away from Decker as far as his work ethic and his abilities, but when a team is looking at a player that is higher than his actual ability, and when reality doesn’t meet expectation, the word ‘bust’ is right around the corner, and with Decker now playing for the Jets, a city that will devour a player if they are not producing, all the pressure shift to Decker to fulfill expectations that were left vacant by Santonio Holmes.
Holmes heads the list of players who left a Super Bowl winning quarterback to receive a paycheck from another team. While injuries plagued Holmes for much of his time in New York, while starting about the same amount of games with Pittsburgh and New York, his receptions dropped by nearly a 100 and his yardage total and per catch totals also dropped. Maybe this Super Bowl MVP should have stayed in Pittsburgh after all.
Another MVP of the Super Bowl left his team for greener pastures, only to find dirt and disappointment at his new destination was Deion Branch. Branch left Tom Brady for Seattle, almost forgetting who made him the role playing receiver that he became, but when you are a small part of a bigger picture, and are asked to draft the canvas, the pressure will mount and you will be labeled as a disappointment. Maybe that is the reason that Branch returned to New England to rekindle that flame, or maybe to just be a role player once again, but he never met expectation in Seattle.
Drew Brees and the complex system that is being run in New Orleans has many moving parts to make it a prolific offense, so when Robert Meachem was a free agent and decided to test the waters in San Diego, he found out that hiding behind Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston was much more comfortable then the West Coast sun. Another receiver on this list who returned ‘home’ Meachem also found out that there is a difference between being the main focus and being a role player, and ultimately found out that there is definitely a difference between Drew Brees and Phillip Rivers.
Greg Jennings is one of the more talented receivers on this list, and while he might not have been very happy in Green Bay, having Aaron Rodgers as your quarterback had to be better than that revolving door up in Minnesota. While Jennings’ numbers didn’t drop dramatically as far as receptions, he averaged nearly 5 yards less a catch then when he was with the Packers. While it is undecided what Minnesota is going to do in the 2014 Draft, Jennings will have to ‘ponder’ what it would be like to play with an elite quarterback for a while.
Mike Wallace is another receiver who left Ben Roethelisberger to prove that he can do it all by himself, and the 60 minute man had about 60 million reasons to do so. While the performance of the Dolphins (8-8) was on par with the Steelers (8-8) when Wallace was a member of those teams, he echoed the theme that comes with leaving a Super Bowl winning quarterback for a young, unproven one. Wallace has explosive speed, but when you are earning 60 million dollars and you only have 4 more catches than Charles Clay, people are going to start to rethink your bank account.
Now, some could argue about the true value of some of these players, and if they are in fact #1 or #2 receivers, but all of them left Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Ben Roethelisberger, quarterbacks who have 7 Super Bowl wins and countless victories and records. No one can say for sure if Decker will fall to the same fate, and while Branch and Meachem returned to the quarterbacks who made them, the book is still out on Wallace, Holmes, and Jennings. The problem Decker then faces is that if and when he would like to return to Denver, Peyton Manning might not be there.