Eric Decker underwent separate surgeries on his hip and shoulder last season, but the Jets’ receiver told Newsday on Tuesday that he has been a full participant in the team’s offseason conditioning program and will be ready to practice at the start of training camp in July.
“My health is good. I’m back and I’m doing everything right now,” Decker, 30, said at the BTIG Charity Day fundraiser in New York. “There are no [structural] issues. I’m just getting my strength back. But as far as everything else, I’m a full go.”
Asked if he would be ready for the start of training camp, Decker said, “Yes. Easily.”
Decker said he’s not surprised he’d be ready this quickly, despite the two surgeries.
“I was surprised when people thought I wasn’t going to be ready,” he said.
There had been speculation Decker might be a part of a sweeping roster overhaul in the offseason, when the Jets parted ways with cornerback Darrelle Revis, center Nick Mangold and wide receiver Brandon Marshall. It appears Decker will survive the purge, at least for now.
“I don’t think anyone’s ever locked in, unless you’ve got a guaranteed contract,” he said. “But I’m not worried about that. I’m more worried about going to work every day. My motto my entire life in football has been, ‘I’m going to lose my job, so I have to work harder than the next person.’ That’s how I approach it. Everything else takes care of itself.”
It’s uncertain which quarterback will end up throwing passes to Decker and the rest of the Jets’ receiving corps in 2017, since coach Todd Bowles announced there would be an open competition among veteran Josh McCown, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. Decker won’t say which quarterback he prefers but believes McCown’s presence will be important, whether he plays or not.
“He’s got a great demeanor, got great leadership qualities,” Decker said of the 38-year-old McCown. “The knock on him is that he’s been to a lot of teams and probably hasn’t won as many ballgames as he’d like, but he’s a solid quarterback and we’re in a phase where he’d be a tremendous leader for us. He’s a good example for the young guys in our room. We’re just finding out our identity as a whole, and he’s going to be a big piece of that.”
Decker also likes the new vibe of the team, which has undergone major changes after a 5-11 season.
“There are some new faces and obviously some faces that aren’t there anymore,” he said. “But with an overhaul, sometimes it creates a new culture. The organization felt this is the direction to go. I understand it’s a business and the older you get, the more years you are in this league, you understand that as well. They’re trying to create a winning culture, a winning team. We’re working on a new system offensively, and I’ve been having a lot of fun these last couple of weeks with the guys.”
Decker is now one of the older players on the roster — “It’s crazy to think I’m up there, because I look back and I was 23 not long ago” — but welcomes a bigger leadership role.
“You have a different role, being a leader, trying to understand these guys and just show them what the right way to do things is and build that winning culture,” he said.
Decker wishes Marshall well in his new digs just down the hall at MetLife Stadium. Marshall signed a two-year deal with the Giants after declining a contract extension with the Jets.
“It’s a business, and sometimes you have to take care of yourself,” Decker said. “Getting a new scene and getting into a new place helps with that, and [Marshall] is a great guy. I enjoyed my time with him in the meeting rooms and on the field. I’m excited for him. I’m not going to cheer for him when we play them, but I’m rooting for him just as a person.”
Pryor’s option not picked up. The Jets have decided not to pick up Calvin Pryor’s fifth-year option, sources confirmed to Newsday.
The former Louisville safety and first-round pick is still under contract for 2017, but whether he finishes out the season on the roster remains to be seen.
The Jets drafted safeties back-to-back in last week’s NFL Draft, selecting LSU’s Jamal Adams sixth overall and Florida’s Marcus Maye in the second round (39th overall). Their arrivals, coupled with Pryor’s inconsistent play, fueled speculation that the Jets would part ways with Pryor, the 18th overall pick in 2014.
NFL Network reported last week that the Jets were shopping Pryor and defensive end Sheldon Richardson during the draft, but general manager Mike Maccagnan declined to comment on the report or say definitively that Pryor will be on the roster this season.