Chiefs pay big for Jeremy Maclin's ability to find the end zone
Maclin officially signed with Kansas City on Wednesday, reportedly a five-year deal worth up to $55 million with $22.5 million guaranteed, setting up a reunion with Andy Reid, his former coach in Philadelphia. His arrival likely makes it a near-certainty that the Chiefs' reigning leading receiver, Dwayne Bowe, will be cut in the very near future.
Maclin should inherit Bowe's role as the go-to receiver for Kansas City. Bowe was targeted on a team-high 95 passes in 2014; no other Chiefs wideout had more than 28 balls thrown his way.
"The receivers are going to take some shots because there were no touchdowns," GM John Dorsey said of the pre-Maclin position group. "We all know that.... Those guys worked their fannies off. It is hard to play in the National Football League. [Bowe] will probably tell you himself that he did not live up to his high standards but now we have 2015 to come back on."
The Chiefs have to be banking on Maclin's familiarity with Reid's system. From 2009-12, with Reid running the show in Philadelphia, Maclin averaged 64 catches and 863 yards receiving per year. Donovan McNabb was the starting QB in '09, then Michael Vick took over for the majority of Reid's final three years with the team.
In Kansas City, Maclin will be paired with the oft-criticized Alex Smith. It is an interesting pairing to say the least. Maclin's post-catch abilities should work well given Smith's approach—he finished seventh in the league with 511 yards after the catch in 2014—but Smith is not known for being able to stretch the field deep. The latter may limit Maclin's production.
[daily_cut.nfl]On the other end of this move is Philadelphia, which opted not to place the franchise tag on Maclin last week. The decision came despite Maclin's 1,318 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns last season, one year removed from a serious knee injury.
Together, Maclin and LeSean McCoy accounted for nearly 2,800 yards in 2014. Both will be playing elsewhere next season: McCoy was traded to Buffalo last week. How the Eagles move forward at receiver, with an underwhelming crop of free agents left, could go a long way in determining their 2015 success.
That's hardly of concern to Kansas City. The Chiefs pounced on the opportunity presented when the Eagles let Maclin test the market, paying a princely sum to swipe the talented receiver.
There's little question that Maclin can provide a boost to the Kansas City passing attack—Bowe never lived up to his potential, and there were no reliable secondary options. Can Maclin find a connection with Smith? The Chiefs' receivers to this point have been unable to establish the necessary rapport to thrive alongside their quarterback.
The Chiefs already were slightly over the cap after using the franchise tag on Justin Houston, so Maclin's deal sets them back further.
They absolutely needed to address the receiver position, though. They did so, in rather surprising fashion.