According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the New York Jets have informed Eric Decker the team will either be trading or releasing him in the upcoming week.
It begs the question, could the Vikings use the former All-BigTen Gophers wide receiver?
Since Schefter stated the Jets intend to either release Decker if they cannot trade him, let's break down both scenarios.
IN A TRADE:
What would the Vikings have to give up?
Simply put: not much.
Eric Decker is 30 years old and he is coming off a shoulder injury that ended his 2016 campaign after just 3 games. Not to mention, the Jets have all but surrendered any form of leverage they may have otherwise had in admitting a release would follow if a trade failed. Despite having great success as recently as 2015 (1,032 yards, 12 touchdowns), in today's NFL, a banged up player north of 30 years of age wouldn't cost a team more than a 4th-6th round future pick. If that.
However, given his history, Rick Spielman has made a habit of trading picks in order to maximize his quantity of selections come draft weekends. And in addition to giving up the 14th overall pick in the 2017 draft in the Sam Bradford trade, the Vikings still owe the Eagles their fourth-round pick in the upcoming 2018 draft. Thus, Minnesota currently owns just six picks in the next spring's draft. I wouldn't expect Spielman to look to dole out any more.
Decker likely prefers his release so that he can pick his own destination. Only one caveat: he may not get the $14.75 million in salary he's due the next two years if he's let go.
Decker would likely have to take a short-term deal worth well under the $7.38 million per year average he had under his Jets contract. Given his age and recent injury, Decker will likely get an offer in the $3-5 million dollar range.
Could the Vikings afford him? Yes; Minnesota is currently nearly $14 million under the NFL salary cap.
If they went after Decker, who would be the odd man out?
Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are the teams top two receivers; they are safe. Despite mustering one catch in his rookie campaign, 2016 first round draft pick Laquon Treadwell would be safe as well. The team just signed Michael Floyd last month. It's difficult to see the Vikings parting ways this early with Floyd, who comes with just a $1.39 million dollar cap hit.
Jarius Wright seems to be the odd man out, if this hypothetical Decker signing came to fruition. Wright was inactive for several games in 2017, and he comes with a 2018 cap hit of $3.14 million. That's a rather significant number for a guy that did not provide much production on the field.
Even if Decker's number was on the high-end around $5 million, and the Vikings cleared $3 million in cap room plus a roster spot by releasing Wright, they would still have $12 million in cap space given their $14 million dollar cushion they have today.
Is it likely? Not necessarily. Does it make sense? I sure as heck think so!
If released, Decker would become a free agent, and be free to sign where he pleased. As a Minnesota native and University of Minnesota alum., it's only natural to speculate there could be some mutual interest in coming back home and joining the Vikings.