He faces an eight-month recovery period, which means he should be back by next training camp.
Decker was injured against the Buffalo Bills in Week 2, but he played every offensive snap the following week against the Kansas City Chiefs, managing only one reception. Two days later, he informed team officials he had aggravated the injury.
He sat out the next two games, hoping he could avoid surgery with rest and rehab. The Jets knew from the outset that surgery was a possibility.
"He wasn't recovering the way we hoped he would," coach Todd Bowles said. "It wasn't getting better, it was getting worse."
Decker's surgery is a blow to the already struggling offense, which managed only three touchdowns during his two-game absence.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said Decker's surgery is "tough news" because the team had been holding out hope that he could return at some point. "You definitely can't replace him with one guy," Fitzpatrick said. "... The red area, on third downs and the stuff that he was tops in the league at, that's the stuff that you really miss. But it's going to be a collective effort. It's going to be a couple of different guys having to step in."
Fitzpatrick, who developed an instant chemistry with Decker, will miss him a lot. In 18 games with a healthy Decker, Fitzpatrick threw 32 touchdowns and only 19 interceptions. In three games without him, he tossed four touchdowns and six interceptions.
"It really hurts. He's one of the great receivers in the league," wide receiver Brandon Marshall said. "We're more than confident in the younger guys we have.
"I'll have the No. 1 corner on me, hopefully, most of the year -- or roll coverage -- so those guys will have favorable matchups," Marshall added. "It's on them to take advantage of that. It's their opportunity to show the NFL what they're about."
The Jets (1-4), losers of three straight, are dealing with a few key injuries this week as they prepare to face the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night.
Cornerback Darrelle Revis (hamstring), linebacker David Harris (hamstring) and center Nick Mangold (knee) are up in the air for the game. None of them practiced on Wednesday, but they may have been held out for precautionary reasons because of an extra practice this week.