Douglas – Decker Debate

The Douglas-Decker Debate:

Who is more valuable to the team in 2017?

The rumors of Titans interest in kicking the tires on veteran Wide Receiver Eric Decker has just reached it’s boiling point. In fact, rumored interest is a rumor no more. Decker was in attendance at Day 2 of Titan’s Minicamp. The receiver – who lives near the area – made Tennessee his first Free Agent visit and reportedly had a physical conducted.

According to Titan’s Head Coach Mike Mularkey, it was a “get to know you visit”. Mularkey also said the purpose of the meeting was to not only meet Decker, but to “make sure he is healthy” – as reported by Jim Wyatt, titansonline.com.

That quote really captured my full attention. The term “make sure” holds a lot of weight in this scenario. It mean the team is at least considering whether adding Decker or not. Decker’s health – in my opinion – will be the deciding factor if the team attempts to sign him or not. Decker – who has struggled with injuries throughout his entire football career – has somehow managed to put up big numbers. Decker’s best years did involve him playing alongside the likes of Demaryius Thomas and Brandon Marshalland a guy named Peyton tossing him the pigskin. His contribution to an offense – when healthy – is unquestionable.


I’ll be the first to admit – from a fan perspective – initially was sold on Titan’s signing Decker based solely on his recorded stats, name recognition, and being a seasoned, skilled veteran. Moreover, from a competition standpoint, I figured it wouldn’t hurt granting that a fair and appropriate deal could be reached for both sides. Should Jon Robinson break the bank for Decker? Absolutely not. I believe Robinson has a number in mind and if Decker checks out physically, that is the number he will stick with. If the sides can’t come to an agreement, Robinson will keep his stance firm and have a clear conscious knowing no stone was left unturned.

Reading through all the reports and tweets regarding Decker consumed my attention for the better part of my morning. For whatever reason, Harry Douglas chances of making the roster hinge on whether or not Decker signs with the team. Without question, signing Decker does push a Wide Receiver off the depth chart, but is it Douglas?

Thus, the Decker and Douglas debate begins.

Decker is good, but is he a fit for this Titan team? And, if so, does that mean Douglas is out?

Let’s compare the two.

Eric Decker : 6’3” 214 lbs Harry Douglas: 6’0” 183 lbs
Age: 30 Age:32
NFL Experience: 7 seasons NFL Experience: 9 seasons
Drafted: 2010, 3rd Round 87th, Denver Drafted: 2008, 3rd Round 84th, Atlanta
Yards: 5,253 Yards: 3,751
TDs: 52 TDs: 10
Best Season: 2013 – 1,288 yds, 11 TDs Best Season: 2013, 1,067, 2 TDs
Supporting Cast During Best Season:

QB: Peyton Manning

RB:Knowshon Moreno, Monte Ball (R)

WRs: Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker

TE: Julius Thomas, Jacob Tamme

Supporting Cast During Best Season:

QB:Matt Ryan

RBs: Steven Jackson, Jaquizz Rodgers, Michael Turner

WRs: Julio Jones, Roddy White

TE: Tony Gonzalez

Games played (Reg. Season):

95/112 – 84%

Games played (Reg.Season)

116/128 – 90%

Using the comparison chart, it’s fairly easy to see who had the better stats over both of their respective careers. Both had their best season in 2013. Bother were catching passes by Pro Bowl Quarterbacks in Peyton Manning (HOF) and Matt Ryan. Both had nice complementary pieces in their offense. Tight End production was great for both teams. With post season stats excluded, both put up 1,000 yards. Demaryius Thomas added over 1,400 and Wes Welker nearly 800 in 2013. Julio Jones had 580 in 5 games on a season he was lost to injury, and Roddy White had just shy of 800 for the year.

So what does that equate to? Douglas’s most productive statistical season came during a year where he became the primary option in a passing attack that lacked Julio Jones – arguably the best receiver in the league today. Decker was productive (granted he had a more significant role) offensively throughout his career.

One of the tweets that really had me thinking about which player adds more value to the team came from former Titans Wide Receiver, Derrick Mason. I posed the question of whether or not adding Decker would hurt the team. Mason responded by stating the following:

“Hurt?no, but wouldn’t be a upgrade over Douglas bc he would still be a 4 on this roster and he can’t play Special teams which HR can.”

Although Mason pointed out adding Decker doesn’t hurt the team, the Titans gain more value on what Harry Douglas offers in other areas like special teams and roster position. Referencing Mason’s other tweets regarding the comparison, he highlights Douglas’s value due to familiarity with offense and ability to help rookies learn it.

Familiarity:

What the Titan’s get in Harry Douglas is a hard-working individual who is familiar with the ins-and-outs of the the offense. With all the subtle intricacies, motions, etc. that are in the Titan’s playbook- that is huge.  Helping ease the learning curve for the young Wide Receivers on the team increases Douglas value. Decker’s work ethic has never been an issue. With Decker – although he has a high football IQ – would have to be taught the offense. Advantage – Douglas.

Cost:

Although no reported numbers of what a Decker contract would look like have been made available, one could safely assume Douglas is much more affordable. Cheaper doesn’t equate to better, but the Titans are banking on their rookie Wide Receivers and Rishard Matthews to keep the chains moving. Decker is a chain-mover, but he comes at a higher price. Advantage – Douglas.

Special Teams:

Mason mentioned Douglas’s role in Special Teams adds to his value. However, the signing of Trawick and Bates as primarily Special Team players may reduce if not eliminate Douglas’s role on Special Teams completely. Having little to no significant role slightly reduces Douglas’s value, but not much. Although Decker has experience with Special Teams, that role diminished and he is used as a primary receiving threat. No Decker on Special Teams, no problem. Advantage – Decker.

Who will be on the team in September?

So what should be made of Decker’s visit to Tennessee? Nothing. Will signing Decker factor into Douglas’s maintaining roster spot? Who knows. Maybe they both make the team if Decker signs. Maybe neither. It’s all speculation at this time. Decker’s durability is the biggest concern, but if that is no longer a concern things could get interesting.

Decker left Nashville with no deal. In fact, by the time you read this, he may have visited and signed elsewhere.

One thing is for sure. The Tennessee Titans will make sure that the best receivers will be on the team by September.

*credit for the Mike Mularkey quote goes to Jim Wyatt.

*tweet reference was made by this author to Derrick Mason

*stats referenced by NFL career stats at nfl.com

*photo credit to authors. I do not assume credit for any photos

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