FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Managing a run of injuries at wide receiver early in training camp, the New England Patriots hosted free agent Eric Decker on a workout Monday, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates.
It is commonplace for the Patriots to work out players to keep their emergency lists updated, and Decker wasn’t the only receiver the Patriots had in town. They also took a closer look at second-year player Devin Fuller, who was most recently with the Atlanta Falcons.
But while Fuller would be a long shot for a roster spot, the 31-year-old Decker would fall into a different category given his experience and production. Decker enters his ninth NFL season, having caught 54 passes for 563 yards and one touchdown with the Tennessee Titans last season.
He broke into the NFL as a third-round draft choice of the Broncos in 2010, when current Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was Denver’s head coach.
In a June interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Decker agreed with co-host Brady Quinn that the Patriots could be a good fit for him. Decker said in the interview that he had a conversation with the Patriots last season prior to him signing in Tennessee, but as of June, had not talked with New England.
That might have been because the Patriots, at that time, already were stocked at the position, having signed free agent Jordan Matthews, traded for Cordarrelle Patterson, and with Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Kenny Britt, Phillip Dorsett and Malcolm Mitchell, among others, returning.
Yet the Patriots have had some attrition at receiver since that time, with Mitchell (knee) not cleared for practice, Britt sidelined with a hamstring injury suffered in June, and Matthews out with a tweaked hamstring over the past weekend. Furthermore, the club also has to consider life without Edelman for the first four games of the regular season as he serves a suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy.
All of which contributed to the Patriots taking a closer look at Decker, a player they would have strongly considered selecting in the third round of the 2010 draft had Denver not nabbed him three picks before their selection.
In regular-season games with Denver (2010-2013), the New York Jets (2014-2016) and Tennessee (2017), Decker has totaled 439 receptions for 5,816 yards with 53 touchdowns.
“At this point in my career, I want to go somewhere where I can compete for a Super Bowl and be in a good system and be with a quarterback that my skill set would be an addition to the team,” Decker said in June on SiriusXM Radio.
Meanwhile, the Patriots signed former Tennessee Titans center/guard Brian Schwenke on Tuesday. The 27-year-old Schwenke entered the NFL as a fourth-round pick out of California in 2013, and has played in 57 career games (30 starts), all with Tennessee.
The club waived undrafted rookie fullback/tight end Shane Wimann (Northern Illinois) to make room for Schwenke.