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BREAKING: Patriots wide receiver Eric Decker announces his retirement

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The veteran calls it a career.

Washington Redskins v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

When the New England Patriots signed free agent Eric Decker to a one-year contract in early August, he was given the chance to compete for a roster spot on a wide receiver depth chart in flux. However, three weeks into his stint with the team it became increasingly clear that Decker was far from a lock to make the team – quite the opposite: after struggling during practice and preseason, the veteran was a likely cut-down casualty.

However, Decker will not be released next week. Why? Because he took to Instagram earlier today to announce his retirement from the NFL:

It has been my childhood dream and my passion to play the game of football. I was very fortunate and blessed to have had the opportunity to have those dreams fulfilled and to have played with such extremely talented and hard-working teammates, coaches and staff. This has been a passion inside of me since I was a little boy but I know now it is time to hang my helmet up and start a new chapter in my life. I love football and always will. It will continue to be a part of my life. I’m looking forward to spending more time with my wife and kids. I want to give a special thank you to my family, friends and fans for all your support on this incredible journey. It’s been an amazing chapter in my life. I look forward to the future and the many adventures ahead!

Before joining the Patriots, Decker spent four years with the Denver Broncos, three with the New York Jets, and one with the Tennessee Titans. The 31-year old, who was originally drafted when New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was still head coach in Denver, ends his career with 439 receptions for 5,816 yards and 53 touchdowns.

With Decker out of the picture, the Patriots’ wide receiver group takes even more shape: Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson and Matthew Slater will be on the team’s day one roster, with Julian Edelman joining them on the team after his four-week suspension. Braxton Berrios, Riley McCarron and Devin Lucien are fighting for the fifth wideout spot on the team.