Will the Cleveland Browns Target Eric Decker After Hiring His Former WR Coach?

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Updated: February 11, 2014

With the NFL on the doorstep of the 2014 NFL Free Agency period, due to start on March 11th, the predictions and rumors are sure to start circulating around the league. For the Cleveland Browns, it should come as no surprise that they would look to be buyers just one season after firing their head coach, Rob Chudzinski. The Browns front office, and specifically CEO Joe Banner, knows that the team has to show substantial improvement this season, or else his job may be on the hot seat.

Rookies can only develop so quickly, and the Browns currently have no legitimate receiving threat to pair with star wide-out, Josh Gordon. The trials and tribulations of Davone Bess over the six months are pretty well documented. It would come as a surprise if he returns to the team, and even more of a surprise if they would choose to risk the season on his ability to step back in seamlessly. For those very reasons, the team needs to add a proven receiver during free agency before hitting the stage at the 2014 NFL Draft.

At the very top of that list is Eric Decker, of the AFC Champion Denver Broncos. Decker has put on a clinic the past couple seasons with quarterback Peyton Manning, a close friend of owner Jimmy Haslam. At just 26-years old, Decker meets the Browns front office’s age requirements, but the big question is if he can mimic the same level of production elsewhere. One can not help but wonder if Decker’s statistics are the beneficiary of The Peyton Manning Effect or if it has just been a case of a young receiver blossoming into his role in the NFL.

Over the past two seasons, Decker has compiled impressive stats. He has posted 172 receptions for 2,352 yards, 24 touchdowns and is responsible for 115 receiving first downs. Decker would be a welcomed complement across from Gordon and would immediately give a second legitimate threat for the Browns starting quarterback. Getting Decker would ease the pressure on the team to force a pick in the draft based on need, and it would allow them to select the best player available at the time.

The Browns may have pulled a free agency audible out as well when they hired new offensive quality control coach Richard Hightower. While he has spent the last four seasons with the Washington Redskins, before that, Hightower coached the wide receivers at the University of Minnesota. At Minnesota, he helped Decker earn first-team All-Big Ten honors during the 2009 season, and he would provide the Broncos free agent with a familiar face and a comfortable landing spot. 

There is still a lot of time left before the NFL draft, but you can bet that Cleveland will have one eye firmly fixed on the free agent wide receiver pool. With players like Decker, Jeremy Maclin, James Jones, Hakeem Nicks, Emmanuel Sanders, Andre Roberts, Golden Tate, Julian Edelman and Riley Cooper all set to hit the market, there is no shortage of talent, but do any fit into the Cleveland Browns budget? The world will find out in just one month’s time.

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