Read the recent rumors, and your head begins to swell. Will Wide Receiver Jeremy Maclin resign with the Philadelphia Eagles? Will the New York Jets pursue him with a potentially lucrative free agent deal? While we’re at it, why not the Dallas Cowboys to add some intrigue in the always interesting NFC East? The bigger question on the table – do the Birds really need Maclin’s services? Is he the right fit for a loaded Ealges offense? And most importantly, can he bring an extra dimension to keep the offense humming during the down times? The answer to all of these questions may not be as simple as wet ink on a contract, and some salary cap numbers.
Maclin burst onto the Eagles’ scene as part of the 2009 draft, being picked up 19th overall during the 1st Round. His initial 5-year deal was negotiated after 8-days of management disagreements. After that resolution, the next two years allowed Maclin to develop into a reliable and versatile receiving threat for quarterback Michael Vick. However, beginning with the 2011 season and a mysterious illness (and related cancer scare) followed by a torn ACL in 2013, Maclin’s ability to remain consistently healthy is now in serious doubt. One of the strengths of the 2013 Eagles team was a relatively healthy and physically resilient team. Maclin most definitely did not fit that mold.
It might be easy in some circles to write off a torn ACL as a freak accident and an inherent risk to playing the game of football. However, the bottom line in this business is wins, and for an offense predicated on rapid-fire ball movement as part of a multi-dimensional passing attack (not to mention a power running game), Maclin’s time may be up. The Eagles could easily let Maclin go, resign the younger and seemingly more resilient Riley Cooper. Sure, he did fracture a collarbone and miss some time, but his size and ability to make spectacular catches in the red zone is a much needed capability the Birds may not be able to afford to lose.
Line up Desean Jackson, Riley Cooper, and Jason Avant when training camp opens. Perhaps go to the draft and pick up a receiver if one falls into place on the boards. The firepower on the offense from this past season shows that while Maclin might be missed in some situations, Head Coach Chip Kelly’s versatile and dynamic offense can and will adapt. It just might be time for Jeremy Maclin to fly South (or North/East/West).