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February 23, 2017

Eagles mailbag: Will Jeremy Maclin be released and return to Philly?

Eagles NFL

During our weekly Eagles chat, there were a lot of questions that I couldn't get to in time as well as some recent unanswered email, so let's do a chat overflow mailbag post.

Question from Randy: What are the chances of Jeremy Maclin being cut and coming back to Philly, seeing as he previously worked with Pederson? 

This notion that Jeremy Maclin will return to the Eagles has become "a thing" recently, but I personally see very little reason why the Kansas City Chiefs would cut him.

To begin, the Chiefs are a really good football team. This is not a situation where a team with little hope of competing for a Super Bowl is trying to jettison aging players (and their money) for youth. Over the last two seasons, they have gone 23-9 in the regular season, making it to the final eight each year. 

In 2016, KC's two biggest producers were Travis Kelce and rookie Tyreek Hill. Maclin had a down year, catching just 44 passes for 536 yards and 2 TDs in 12 games while dealing with an assortment of issues, ranging from the death of his best friend to a nagging groin injury. Is it entirely reasonable to see his numbers increase dramatically with a healthy season free of outside distractions? Hell yes.

Would it be a good idea to trust a 5'10, 185 pound, second-year, off-the-field risk in Hill as your go-to receiver? Hell no.

Keep in mind, the Chiefs got a grand total of zero-point-zero touchdowns from their wide receivers in 2014 the year before Maclin arrived. In 2015, Maclin had eight TDs in his first season with the team, while also catching 87 balls for 1088 yards. All other Chiefs receivers had a combined total of four TDs.

The Maclin scuttlebutt seems to have originated from a suggestion by ESPN's Bill Barnwell that the Chiefs could cut Maclin to save $10 million:

Before the Chiefs can do much of anything, they need to free up some room on their 2017 cap. Kansas City is currently $2.1 million under the cap next year, but it can change that in a hurry. The Chiefs would free $10.8 million by declining Nick Foles' option, which it appears they are expected to do, although they could still bring him back at a lesser figure. Cutting Jamaal Charles would free up $6.2 million, and if they need it, Dustin Colquitt could come off the books for $4.1 million more.

The big question, as I wrote about last month, is whether the Chiefs decide to cut Jeremy Maclin. Maclin looked ordinary last year as the offense shifted toward Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, and while he's still a useful player as he turns 29, GM John Dorsey could free up $10 million on this year's cap by designating Maclin as a post-June 1 release. If Dorsey makes those four moves, the Chiefs suddenly have $33.2 million in cap space, which would come in handy to (lock up S Eric Berry).

All mentions of the "post-June 1 release" have become a new pet peeve of mine, as their repercussions are never fully explained. To clear it up, here are the Chiefs' four basic options with Maclin, with data obtained by

  1. Keep him on the team at a cap number of $12.4 million in 2017.
  2. Ask him to restructure.
  3. Release or trade him, which would result in a savings of $5.2 million in 2017, and $7.2 million in dead money.
  4. Designate him as a "post-June 1 release." That would indeed free up $10 million on the 2017 salary cap, however, it would push $4.8 million of dead money into 2018, and $2.4 million would remain on the books in 2017. In other words, it would be a mechanism that would allow the Chiefs to put off a portion of the pain into 2018, but the aforementioned $7.2 million in dead money noted in option No. 3 is hitting their book one way or the other. It would most certainly not just create some kind of magical extra savings, or else you'd see nearly every team use the June 1 designation every year.

Sorry, I get a little fired up explaining No. 4.

I don't cover the Chiefs, so I don't have the same understanding as to how they operate as I do with the Eagles. However, as an outsider looking in, I see little to make me think the Chiefs will just cut Maclin to free up some immediate cash when they are a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Question from Richard: Do you think the Eagles bring back Stefen Wisniewski?

After Wisniewski signed a one-year deal with the team, he was honest about his intentions.

"I wasn't getting the kind of money I was looking for in a long-term deal, so I kind of wanted to sign a one-year deal and get back to being a free agent again," he said back in April of 2016.

If the Eagles move on from Jason Kelce, and maybe even Allen Barbre as well, there's a logical thinking that Wisniewski's chances of re-signing with the team would increase. I would agree with that logic to some degree, however, I think that in any scenario, the Eagles are just going to let him walk.

Question from Kip Chelly: Would Latavius Murray make sense for the Eagles at around $4 million per year?

Speculation grew that the Eagles could have interest in Murray following an Instagram photo of Carson Wentz and Murray working out together in California:

Two things here:

  1. Wentz and Murray share the same agent. That's all this is.
  2. Murray is holding an umbrella and he's wearing casual sneaks. He's not even working out! (OK, I kid on that one).

Anyway, no, I think the running back position is much more likely to be addressed in the draft than it is in free agency.

Question from JC: Vinny Curry’s most productive years were in a 3-4 defense and when he rushed from the inside. Do you think he could be effective rushing inside in this wide-nine alignment?

Well, yes, it's true that the Eagles ran a 3-4 in 2014 when Curry had 9 sacks and 4 forced fumbles, however, Curry was typically only in the game when the Eagles went to a four lineman set in obvious passing situations.

In theory, yes, Curry should be a good fit for a wide-nine, 4-3 alignment. In theory, Jim Schwartz should have also looked to allow Curry to rush from the inside against guards, who should theoretically struggle against Curry's quickness, but that almost never happened last season. In theory, as Homer Simpson once noted, Communism works. In theory.

Curry has to play better. That's not exactly high-end analysis, but it's the truth. Additionally, Schwartz has to put Curry in better positions to succeed.

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