FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots are signing veteran wide receiver Eric Decker to a one-year deal, according to a league source.
Decker, 31, was in Foxborough on Monday for a workout with the team.
Decker is 6 feet 3 inches and was productive earlier in his career making catches at the boundary, but more recently, and particularly following a 2016 hip surgery, he has been most effective as a jumbo-sized slot receiver. That is the role Jordan Matthews, who went on injured reserve Wednesday, was expected to fill. Decker’s 10.3 yards per reception in 2017 with the Titans was a career-low, reflecting the change in role, while he caught 64 passes for 563 yards and a touchdown.
The Patriots know Decker well since he has spent his entire career in the AFC and was with the division-rival Jets from 2014-16. Decker also began his NFL career in 2010 as a third-round draft pick by the Broncos who, at the time, had Josh McDaniels as their head coach.
The Patriots get a familiar veteran at a position they needed to fortify, and Decker gets a chance to join a contender, something he had expressed a desire to do earlier this summer.
“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 told SiriusXM Radio in June.
Decker has won four playoff games in his career and made one Super Bowl, but was on the losing end when the Broncos got blown out by the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII.
He will have to change numbers. Decker has worn No. 87 his entire career, but he’s probably not going to be able to pry that one away from Rob Gronkowski.
The Patriots had 90 players on the roster, so they will have to clear a spot for Decker. Offensive lineman Nate Theaker wasn’t at practice on Thursday, and could be the odd man out.