The Chiefs surprised the NFL when they released wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Fans and analysts alike did not understand the move at first. But, as the days went on, the move started to make sense. Maclin was not only a necessary cap casualty. He also didn’t fit with what the Chiefs wanted to do. Let’s talk about what this release means for Kansas City in 2017.
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One of the main reasons for Maclin’s release comes down to money. The Chiefs were one of the most cap-strapped teams in the league, sitting at a measly $3.5 million under the cap. The release saves Kansas City about $10 million in cap space. Why did they do it? Well, their top three draft picks needed to be signed, which costs around $4.5 million. The Chiefs needed that money in order to sign them, and Maclin was one of two players whose release would count enough. The other? None other than Alex Smith. The Chiefs did what they needed to do.
Does The Offense Need Him?
The other big story revolved around the offense. Maclin declined in production last season and ended up sidelined for a while too. He looked like a wide receiver one in his first season, but his decline raised doubts. Plus, other options have emerged in the offense. Tyreek Hill emerged as a dangerous playmaker. Travis Kelce continues to prove that he is a top tight end in this league. The Chiefs also expect more from Chris Conley in his third season.
Another big part of this is how the offense works. Andy Reid employs a system build around an effective running game and good tight ends. He has all of that in place now. A possession wide receiver like Maclin is not necessary for this offense. Reid needs his receivers to separate with speed and create mismatches. The guys in place (Hill, Conley, Albert Wilson) can create mismatches to give Alex Smith easy reads. Kelce is a huge help, along with the creative run game. Obviously, it isn’t perfect, but it is effective enough without a guy like Maclin.
Outlook For 2017
Maclin’s release doesn’t pull the plug on postseason hopes. But, it does put a damper on their Super Bowl chances. While he didn’t do much on the field last season, he did provide leadership for the young guys. The Chiefs need leaders, but they also have a plan in place. Yes, this year probably won’t bring a title. But, improvement from the young receivers builds towards their goals for contending in the future. The Maclin release hurts now, but it won’t affect plans for the years to come. The Chiefs must believe in the team they are putting on the field.
— Jake Schyvinck is a Managing Editor for cover32 and covers the Kansas City Chiefs. You can follow him on Twitter here.