And down goes another New England Patriots wide receiver.
In a summer training camp that’s already seen Kenny Britt, Jordan Matthews, and Malcolm Mitchell all released due to injuries that kept them off the field, Eric Decker joined them by way of a retirement announced via Instagram on Sunday.
The 31-year-old Decker, signed by the Patriots on Aug. 3, has struggled throughout the preseason, with issues with catching the ball and failing to develop any real chemistry with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Decker did not draw into Friday’s preseason loss to the Panthers until the second half, and finished the game with two catches (on five targets) for just 12 yards.
Despite his struggles — and looking like a player that had almost nothing left in the tank — Patriots coach Bill Belichick seemingly praised Decker’s grasp on the New England offense in his Saturday conference call with the media.
“I think Eric’s learned everything well,” Belichick offered. “Again, he had a background in this system in Denver with Josh [McDaniels] and he’s played multiple positions in the offense since he’s been here. We used a couple new formations last night so I don’t think learning is really a problem for him and he has a lot of experience of some of the more sophisticated routes, option routes and things like that are all things that he’s done and it’s just really a question of getting the timing and the exactly how you want to do it and seeing enough looks on it so that you and the quarterback know exactly what it is.”
Decker’s retirement leaves the Patriots’ already wobbly wideout corps looking thinner than ever.
Signed to the roster as of right now: Julian Edelman (suspended for the first four weeks of the season), Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson, Matthew Slater, Riley McCarron, Devin Lucien, Braxton Berrios, and Paul Turner.
The Patriots close out their preseason slate on the road this Thursday night against the Giants.