I’m getting really used to this idea of putting things in numbered lists. It keeps things so concise. One thing that isn’t growing on me, however, is the perennial suggestion that the Patriots should go after the highest paid WR on the market. No matter who it is. No matter what else is going on. Every single year. It’s an idea that local journalists propagate every year knowing that it’s the wrong move and will never happen and thankfully has never materialized in New England. This year that receiver happens to be soon-to-be-former Bronco Eric Decker. Decker’s name has been at the forefront of such bulldozing-ly awful article’s as Jackie MacMullan’s (who presumably blacked out during any given unwatchable NBA game and woke up the next day with Mike Reiss’ stolen laptop and a finished article on ESPN Boston) letter to Belichick told through the unspoken thoughts of Tom Brady (it’s as great as it sounds).
Decker, who has spent the last few seasons as a #2 WR behind star wideout Demaryius Thomas, is going to command #1 WR money. We know this because history tells us so. Plenty of real football fans are content to see players like Dwayne Bowe re-sign with the Chiefs and have one of the worst seasons in his entire career, or guys like Mike Wallace get his payday with a clueless Dolphins franchise. But the problem is people read these articles and get in the “why not us” mentality all too easily…. Why not willingly over spend on a #2 wide receiver that miraculously broke out of his shell when teams were forced to double cover Demaryius Thomas? Why not go all out for a big bodied wideout who, as Patskrieg FB reader and Boston Phoenix writer Janssen McCormick put it turns into Harvey Whippleman when DB’s get physical? Why not put all your eggs in one basket? Isn’t it easier to carry that way? Here are some facts and opinions that I would hope would dissuade Patriots fans from praying for a Decker deal when free agency begins this upcoming Monday.
1. Proven Fact: Buying the Most Expensive Wide Receiver On the Market DOES NOT Fix An Offense
Here are some cold hard facts I’ve compiled from the last 5 seasons. Listed below were the biggest name / highest paid free agent wide receivers and what happened to the teams that broke the bank for them. Note: This does not include WR’s that re-signed with their teams, or players that were traded for. This is only in terms of the highest paid WR’s to sign with a new team on their own. This chart details how much they signed for, the team’s overall offensive rank the season before the signing, and the rank in the season following, and their record that year.
What To Take Away From This List:
- None of these teams made the playoffs.
- None of these teams finished above .500.
- None of these teams had a significant improvement in their offense. In fact half of them either stayed the same or got significantly worse.
- Vincent Jackson has been a unanimous success in Tampa, yet their offense as a whole somehow tanked after they signed him.
- Antonio Bryant didn’t even make it through Bengal’s training camp before he was cut, and Cincy threw away another season.
- Seattle, the team that gets hit twice here, eventually succeeded after cutting TJ and phasing Rice out of their offense.
- Remember what a foregone conclusion it was that Houshmandzadeh was going to blow the doors off whatever team he ended up with? I stayed up until 2 AM the night he went free agent expecting him to sign with Minnesota and team up with Adrian Peterson. How did no one stop for a minute to think that maybe a nutcase like Housh wasn’t ready to carry an offense?
- That’s just great. Thank you spellcheck. Now everyone knows I lazily made the table in Word.
In all fairness, most of these teams had to suffer through terrible quarterback play or stupid coaches or both. But that just goes to show you what type of franchises are willing to go full Dibiase on a guy that’s typically another team’s #2 WR just because he’s the biggest name on the market. Honestly, this should be the whole piece right here. The sheer history should tell you what a bad move it is. But I said 3 things for some reason so let’s keep going.
2. The Randy Moss Offense Was A Freak Occurrence
There was a time when the Patriots ended up with the top WR in the game and the results were incredible. That receiver’s name was Randall Gene Moss and it was a unicorn-class celestial miracle likely never to happen again. Seriously, a future first-ballot Hall of Famer with life left in him just sitting there festering on a horrible team, available for practically nothing with no risk, looking for a team like the Patriots, and willing to re-negotiate his contract for almost half they money… When will that EVER happen again?
The most expensive wide receiver on the Patriots roster in 2007 wasn’t even Randy Moss. After a nightmarish 2006 WR corps the Patriots went out and got:
- Donte Stallworth – 6 years $30 million. The deal seemed big on the surface but was predominantly incentive based and gave the Pats the ability to release him for cheap whenever they wanted
- Wes Welker – A relative unknown rescued from wasting away in Miami, seized for a 2nd and a 7th round pick and re-signed for a 5 year $18.1 million contract.
- Kelly Washington – UFA who the Patriots signed for a $300,000 signing bonus, and another incentive heavy contract worth up to $22 million over 5 years.
Moss got his money, Welker saw his money, everyone else was dropped no strings attached and the Patriots turned in an 18-1 season with an offense that should have broken their bank account but never did. So even when they did land the best WR in the game, the solution wasn’t throwing money around stupidly.
3. I Thought Aaron Dobson Was the Answer?
A lot of people who convinced you that last year’s 2nd round pick Aaron Dobson was a star in the making are the same people pleading for Decker to save the day. Off the top of my head I’ll pick on NESN’s Doug Kyed who opined towards the end of last season that Dobson was actually a better pick than Cordarrelle Patterson because his rushing and kick return stats shouldn’t factor into a comparison between the two….? Whatever that’s supposed to mean.
But less than a month later Kyed wrote another article calling Decker his ideal free agent signing on the grounds that we need to sink more money into the wide receiver position to compliment Amendola on the inside.
I like Doug Kyed and think he’s a smart football guy, but he has a tendency to be overly literal. I’ll also add the fact that no one, short of maybe an ex-girlfriend of his back in West Virginia, has dumped on Dobson more than I have. After almost a year of shredding him to pieces day in and day out I still think he deserves a chance to prove himself as a starting WR as opposed to over-spending at the position. In my humble opinion he played like a guy who was overwhelmed with the game. He looked nervous, uncomfortable, and at times shocked that he was making the plays he was. When you approach a sport like that there’s no way to concentrate on your technique. Between Dobson, Thompkins and Boyce (who will never again be called “Joyce Boyce” or “Josh Joyce” by the legendary Dan Dierdorf) there is enough talent for at least one of them to become a solid football player. I would be much happier letting them develop this off-season installing a lower cost talent across the field from them like Kenny Britt and playing the percentages that somewhere in between three talented 2nd-years and one potential star veteran something will develop. It almost has to.
Honorable Mentions For Free Agents To Also Stop Talking About
- Champ Bailey – It’s over. Did you see him play late last year? He looked like later years Kirk Gibson using the last bits of his pain threshold to hobble to his locker for a fistfull of chaw minus the World Series home run.
- Tony Gonzalez – It’s over. He couldn’t coast to a Super Bowl in Atlanta. Gonzalez is searching Monster for “Trophy Raiser” and “Tears of Joy Confetti Snapshot Model” He’s not interested in learning a new offense and grinding out another season of football.