It’s Super Bowl week and, therefore, we get to take a closer and more in depth look at the teams and their players who are enjoying the spotlight. We have the chance to dive and analyze their season and what strengths led them to the Big Game. When we look at the Patriots and Seahawks teams, we see sheer dominance at certain positions on the offensive side of the ball. Certain offensive position players like Rob Gronkowski (3rd in the NFL), Marshawn Lynch (1st in the NFL) are top level at their positions league-wide. Tom Brady was 2nd in passing this year while Julian Edelman was 3rd in receiving. Both teams’ offenses have been successful due to certain position players – players that make a difference to keep a drive alive, players who score touchdowns in the red zone, players who understand the concept of teamwork and leadership.
My point is, NFL teams need to have dominant position players on offense to win in the regular season and postseason. For example, when teams have a top-10 wide receiver on their roster who embodies the concept of teamwork, understands the offensive scheme and who is also a leader, that player shouldn’t be shown the door. Teams need to keep that kind of dedication around. And this is why the Eagles should do all they can to re-sign WR Jeremy Maclin long-term. Maclin might not be considered elite, but he’s dominant in Chip Kelly’s offense.
We all know that Maclin is one-year removed from his second ACL injury in his football career (his first while attending Mizzou many years ago). Of course, there’s concern about another injury, but I’m also concerned about other Eagles who may get injured based on their history and how they play the game – Jason Peters, LeSean McCoy to name a couple. A potential injury should not be cause to hesitate.
Maclin finished the season 9th in the league in yards – 1,318. He averaged 15.5 yards per reception (YPR). (By the way, a recent Comcast SportsNet article got that YPR wrong…not sure how that’s possible when one can simply go to NFL.com). When you look at the top-10 wide receivers, only T.Y. Hilton finished with more YPR and Jordy Nelson tied Maclin. He tied for 9th in touchdowns with 10. He also tied for 6th in the NLF for plays over 20 yards – he and Hilton both had 21. Oh, and he was 3rd in the league with plays over 40 yards. He had 7 while only Jordy Nelson and DeSean Jackson were in front of him. I’ll even take it a step further – he had no fumbles this past season. And I’ll even take it a step further by referencing a tweet from Bryn Swartz (@eaglescentral) – Jeremy Maclin’s seven games with Nick Foles projected over a full season: 90 catches, 1,549 yards, 15 touchdowns. Yes, this is a projection and not what he did on the field. But we all like “stats,” right?
The only real negative stat we can see with Maclin – and I’m not necessarily sure this is his fault – is that both quarterbacks, Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez, threw seven interceptions when targeting Jeremy this past season. That’s the most for any one wide receiver in the NFL.
Frankly, why Maclin hasn’t been re-signed to a multi-year deal yet is perplexing. He has proven himself to be the kind of on-the-field and off-the-field player Chip Kelly wants on the team. What could possibly be taking so long to get this deal done? The only possible issue could be the fact that Maclin now has a new agent who may not be as familiar with the Eagles organization as his prior negotiator-in-chief. The Eagles have consistently said they want Maclin back in midnight green. Maclin has said countless times that he wants to remain an Eagle.
Let’s look at the following scenario. Could the front office and Kelly be looking to franchise tag him? Sure. It could be a smart move. Instead of proving himself one year after a significant injury, he now has two years to prove he’s the dominant difference maker in the wide receiver corps. Plus, there’s quite a few top-tier free agent wide receivers who will be available in 2016 – T.Y. Hilton, A.J. Green to name a couple. Chip Kelly is very similar to Bill Belichick in terms of playing hardball with his personnel. Case in point – DeSean Jackson. Just because a player is really good at their position doesn’t mean they need to be on the team.
Listen, I have confidence a deal will get done at some point whether it’s this year or after next season. Jordan Matthews is not yet in the realm of a top notch receiver. Riley Cooper just had one of the worst years of any wide out in the league and Josh Huff has way too much growing to accomplish (quite honestly, I’m not sure Huff should even be on the team). Unless the Eagles plan on taking three receivers off the bat in the draft, they should and need to re-sign Maclin. He’s a player who buys into the Kelly system, knows his NFC East opponents and is valuable to help take the Eagles to the next level.
While we’re all talking about position players this week like Lynch, Gronkowski and Edelman, it’s very possible in the years to come the world can be looking on Jeremy Maclin in the same regard. He has what it takes. Get a deal done, Eagles.