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Eric Decker announces retirement after 8 seasons

For the second time in four years, a veteran wide receiver has opted to hang up his cleats after spending his August in New England.

Patriots wideout Eric Decker announced his retirement in an Instagram post Sunday:

Much like Reggie Wayne's brief sabbatical with the Patriots in the summer of 2015, Decker saw the writing on the wall with final roster cuts coming. Signed off the street in the early days of training camp, Decker followed a string of drop-plagued practices with an underwhelming showing in preseason action. He reeled in just two of seven targets for 12 yards versus the Eagles and Panthers the past two weeks.

Even in a depleted New England receiving corps, Decker was making no headway in his battle with the likes of Braxton Berrios, Riley McCarron and Paul Turner for the final spot.

The league's preeminent second fiddle with the Broncos and Jets earlier this decade, Decker was essentially a power forward in the red zone and down the seam. Over a four-year span from 2012 through 2015, Dez Bryant and Brandon Marshall were the only wide receivers to best Decker's 41 touchdowns. He and Marshall found the end zone in the same game nine times in 2015, breaking the NFL tandem record set by Cris Carter and Randy Moss with the historically explosive 1998 Vikings.

Decker was still playing a high level until major hip and shoulder surgeries ended his 2016 season in October. After signing with the Titans last year, Decker was a shadow of his former self, perhaps leaving his speed and explosiveness on the operating table at age 30. He failed to drum up interest on the open market until the Patriots grew desperate earlier this month.

A borderline Pro Bowl player at his best, Decker will finish his eight-year NFL career with 5,816 yards and 53 touchdowns on 439 receptions.

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