In a surprise move, the Kansas City Chiefs severed ties with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin two years into a five-year/$55-million-dollar deal.
The cap saving move clears $10 million in the coming years against the Chiefs salary cap as the Chiefs were sitting at a meager $3.5M under the salary cap before the move. Now that the shock value of this move is wearing off, let’s decipher the implications on the AFC West and my top three potential landing spots for Maclin.
Too many Kansas City Chiefs, not enough cap
For starters, the Chiefs lost a veteran wide receiver and a consummate professional. Head coach Andy Reid now has a starting receiving corps that consists of Chris Conley, speedster Tyreek Hill and Albert Wilson. Quite frankly, Maclin’s 2016 stats (44 catches for 536 yards and two TDs) in comparison were only six yards and two touchdowns better than third-year receiver Conley. Conley whose cap hit is for 840k while Maclin has a cap number set at a premium $12.4M. Maclin returning from injury without the production made it an easy business decision for the Chiefs who are currently in a cap crisis.
Is it a case of the coach knowing something we don’t about the player involved? Or is it just a clear-cut case of unconditional loyalty to the bottom line? In any case, the Chiefs had better have another player on deck in need of an opportunity to shine because if something were to happen to Travis Kelce or Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs passing game could be drifting down Schitt’s Creek without a paddle. These two accounted for 146 receptions 1,718 combined receiving yards and 10 touchdowns last season. It would take the next four most productive receivers on the roster combined to equal the numbers they put up together in 2017.
As previously pointed out, if the injury fairy pays a visit to Kelce or Hill, the gameplan will get very uncomplicated fast. At its surface, it doesn’t seem like much of an impact, but it leaves the Chiefs with a chink in the armor on offense.
Where shall Maclin go?
When you are on the youthful side of thirty, fresh off an injury and a down year with a short yardage quarterback tossing up water balloons outside of 15 yards, you need to consider taking a sizeable pay cut.
If Maclin chooses to swallow the old pride and sign a “prove it” deal, he won’t have any problems finding work with a contender fairly quickly. Should he opt to wait in hopes of taking care of “numero uno” first, he may find himself in a less than ideal situation. If he wants to make an impact, here are the top teams that might make the most sense for him at this moment:
New England, It looks like every time a veteran is in a situation similar to Maclin’s, said veteran takes a trip to New England and ends up winning a ring; which is good for the Patriots, but not so much for the rest of the league. Just this past offseason, it felt like front-offices lined up and gave offerings to the Patriots. Kony Ealy was traded for a mere third-round pick after Carolina decided he was no longer part of their plans. Similarly, Brandin Cooks was given to the Pats for essentially the first pick in the second round and a 72′ Pinto missing a wheel. Other teams remember that the last time the Patriots were able to get their hands on a premier deep threat, Tom Brady tossed a then record 50 touchdowns and Randy Moss set the single-season receiving touchdown mark at 23.
Tennessee, Marcus Mariota has proven to be more than just a Chip Kelly wonder duck. Last season, the Titans were battling neck and neck with the Houston Texans until Mariota fractured his fibula on Christmas Eve. Rishard Matthews and Tajae’ Sharpe were solid receivers for the Titans last year but neither of them can bring the savvy veteran experience that Maclin can offer; the Titans are every bit as intriguing to me as any of the other up-and-comers and a Pro Bowl caliber wide receiver may be just what the doctor ordered.
Washington, With an over $60 million estimated in cap room and finding themselves in need of another quality wide receiver, this could mark Maclin’s return to the NFC East. While Terrell Pryor may have signed earlier, the Redskins watched both Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson depart during free agency. In fairness, there is a palpable funk wafting in the air between the front office and the quarterback. With this being the second year in a row he’s been tagged, he should be able to walk free as a bird at the end of the season if he has no deal. But it also represents a team in need of a receiver and possessing deep pockets.
What, why not Oakland?
To borrow from a friend of mine, it seems that every time a veteran player from another team is cut, Raider Nation starts the @______to Oakland-movement, if the player’s good enough or perhaps fills a need, they will get a recruitment pitch from “Baby Reggie” himself. But this is one recruitment pitch that shouldn’t be made.
According to the numbers, Maclin had a PFF grade of 67.2. As previously noted, he caught 44 passes for 536 yards and 2 TD’s, albeit facing the other team’s top defending option most of the season. In comparison, Seth Roberts was graded out at an abysmal 48.3 PFF grade and caught 38 passes for 397 yards and 5 TD’s. Statistically, Maclin stands out as a receiver and would definitely be an upgrade.
Downfield blocking is a must in this offense and Maclin posts a respectable 57.1 run blocking grade while Roberts is an absolute road grading monster posting an 80.1. While the primary job of a wide receiver is to get open and catch passes, too often is the blocking aspect overlooked.
Roberts blocking has directly resulted in touchdown runs and screen plays. He is a beloved member of this team and most importantly, he’s somebody Carr trusts. While Carr loves all his teammates, he has a special place in his heart for the guys who show up working their tails off day in and out. A guy like Roberts, who was an undrafted free-agent out of a small school and worked his way up from a tryout to where he is today.
Why shouldn’t the Raiders sign Maclin even though the stats clearly show him favor? Maclin is attempting to return to form after rehabbing from another injury. While it’s not lost how hypocritical it’s to clamor for a 31-year-old running back coming out of retirement and then shun a 29-year-old receiver coming off a down year with a rival. The fact of the matter is that even if he played for the veteran’s minimum, he would still be making almost 6 times what Roberts is making. Maclin could be everything the Raiders need at the receiver spot; however, a heated battle for the third wide receiver slot has already taken shape. Maclin was released by a close friend in Andy Reid and maybe it was strictly a money move… or maybe it wasn’t.