Eric Decker retiring leaves Patriots with 3 options at wide receiver

Ryan Hannable
August 26, 2018 - 4:22 pm

It was clear Eric Decker was struggling to pick up the Patriots offense and didn't have much left in the tank, so when he announced his retirement on Sunday it didn't come as much of a surprise.

Decker was part of the mix at wide receiver and with him out of the picture, it seems to leave the team with three options at the position.

1. Have Riley McCarron make the team

Yes, there's also Braxton Berrios, Devin Lucien and Paul Turner, but right now it seems like McCarron is ahead of those three players on the depth chart. The slot receiver has shown flashes of being able to contribute, but then has also had a few poor plays, including a few drops. He's also been in the mix as a kick/punt returner, so that only adds to his value. McCarron saw limited reps with Tom Brady and the rest of the first-team offense in the first half Friday night, which shows they are at least considering him for one of the final spots on the roster. One thing going his way is he primarily lines up out of the slot, which could make him be viewed as Julian Edelman's replacement for the first four weeks.

2. Go with only three wide receivers besides Matthew Slater

Given the pass-catching ability of some of the running backs and tight ends, the Patriots could get away with having only three wide outs besides special teamer Matthew Slater. With Edelman out for the first four weeks, the locks would appear to be Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson. The Patriots have played games with limited depth at the receiver position before, so they certainly can work around it the first few weeks. It may make more sense to give one of the last roster spots to a player who has a better chance of contributing than a No. 4 receiver.

3. Add a player via trade or free agency

There are certainly a few notable players still available on the open market, including Dez Bryant, Brandon LaFell and Jeremy Maclin. Besides players who are free agents now, the Patriots will certainly be keeping an eye on the waiver wire the next week to see players who are released by other teams. If a player they like is let go, they likely won't hesitate to put in a claim. Another possibility is a trade, and Bill Belichick hasn't been afraid to pull off a deal or two at this time of year in the past.

Related: Eric Decker announces retirement via Instagram