The Titans signed wide receiver Eric Decker on Sunday, officially giving Marcus Mariota the most talented group of receivers he’s worked with in his career so far. Mariota’s not the only NFL quarterback to be so lucky this season, either.
Decker was cut by the Jets, a team that may not be tanking but sure isn’t setting itself up to succeed this season. Less than a week later, he signed with Tennessee. He joins rookies Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor, as well as Rishard Matthews and tight ends Delanie Walker and Jonnu Smith.
The signing made perfect sense for the Titans. Bringing in Decker means they have a reliable veteran presence in the receiving corps who can contribute right away and help the rookies develop. It’s great news for Mariota, who may be able to take his game to the next level with these offensive upgrades.
Which other teams have given their quarterbacks the best group of receivers they’ve had to work with so far in their careers?
New York Giants - Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard
This may not surprise you, but Beckham thinks this receiver group is going to be a problem for defenses this season.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing what teams are going to do this year. I think it's going to be a lot of trouble," Beckham said, via NJ.com. "Especially young Shep, I know he's ready. I know the other receivers in that room, TK (Tavarres King), are ready and our defense is going to be very solid as well. So I'm looking forward to this year."
Beckham is one of the league’s best, and Shepard got off to a solid start in his rookie season with 683 yards and eight touchdowns. King only had two catches last season for 50 yards, but he could find himself open more as defenses try to contain Beckham, Marshall, and Shepard.
Bringing in Marshall this offseason gives Eli Manning the most talented group of targets he’s had to work with in his long career — or at least since the team’s last Super Bowl run, with Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, and Victor Cruz.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard
Jameis Winston and Mike Evans had a great connection last season, teaming up for 1,321 yards and 12 touchdowns. Now the Bucs’ roster is stacked with receiving talent. The Buccaneers added DeSean Jackson in free agency and drafted Chris Godwin and the top tight end available this year, O.J. Howard.
DeSean Jackson gives the Buccaneers some speed at a position that didn’t really have it with an aging Vincent Jackson on the roster. Godwin is a strong, physical target, and Howard is extremely well-rounded as a blocker and a receiver.
Winston had a good season last year, with 4,090 yards and 28 touchdowns. But the talent the Buccaneers added around him may push the team closer to postseason contention in 2017.
Philadelphia Eagles - Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz
Sure, it’s a small sample size for second-year quarterback Carson Wentz. But with the additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, Wentz heads into 2017 with two experienced targets.
Ertz, a tight end, was the team’s leading receiver last year with 816 yards and four touchdowns. Jeffery has the talent to be a true No. 1 receiver, and Smith is a reliable veteran addition. Jordan Matthews should continue to be a big factor in the passing game after putting up 804 yards and three touchdowns for Philadelphia last season.
Wentz started his rookie season strong, but the Eagles went 7-9 and Wentz finished with 16 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. The receivers didn’t do him any favors, either — they had the highest number of dropped passes in the league last season. Adding Jeffery and Smith, and bringing in running back LeGarrette Blount to balance things out, should help Wentz elevate his game next season.
New England Patriots - Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Brandin Cooks, Rob Gronkowski
I hesitated to include the Patriots simply because I don’t think this is the best receiving corps Tom Brady has had to work with in his career. Randy Moss and Wes Welker combined for 2,668 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2007, and 23 of those touchdowns were from Moss. That’s almost unfathomable. But Brady hasn’t had this kind of depth to work with in the past.
Rob Gronkowski, when healthy, is easily the best tight end in the league. Edelman was the team’s top receiver last year with 1,106 yards and three touchdowns. Hogan had 680 yards and four scores, and Gronk, even though he missed much of the season due to injury, put up 540 yards and three touchdowns.
The addition of Cooks rounds out an already-solid group. Cooks scored eight touchdowns for the Saints last season and gives Brady a speedy target. He rounds out an absolute embarrassment of riches at receiver for the reigning Super Bowl champions.