Jeremy Maclin’s release will hurt the Chiefs in myriad ways

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 01: Casey Hayward
SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 01: Casey Hayward /
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KANSAS CITY, MO – DECEMBER 18: Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin
KANSAS CITY, MO – DECEMBER 18: Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin /

A Reliable Field-Stretcher

It’s easy to read way too much into springtime or even training camp performances at certain positions. For example, DeMarcus Robinson has reportedly looked good at Chiefs OTAs this spring, which bodes well for the team’s wide receiving corps. It’s easy to potentially read all of this and thinking something like, “Well, with Chris Conley and Tyreek Hill already in place and if Robinson is ready to break out, the Chiefs should be fine at receiver.”

That’s where you would be wrong. Does anyone remember getting fired up by Jon Baldwin’s middle-of-the-night runs to show he was committed? Or even Baldwin’s incredible catches at OTAs? That’s just one example of how easy it is to get fired up about a player’s potential in the offseason only to see that when the defenses are flying, when the clock is ticking, when the pads are on, the game changes completely for those players.

Maclin has proven himself to be a reliable veteran receiver who can move the chains when it counts. Over five seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, Maclin averaged 13.9 yards/catch. With the Chiefs, it’s a full yard-and-a-half lower at 12.5. In a game of inches, that’s a mile of progress. It also shows that Chiefs fans haven’t seen the sort of field extension that Maclin can provide an offense.

Turning the page a bit, Patrick Mahomes is going to have the arm and moxie to take full advantage of a player like Maclin. In his final season with the Eagles, Maclin even raised that to 15.5 yards/catch over a full season, his finest yet that included 10 touchdowns and 1,318 receiving yards. Maclin’s 46 career touchdowns tell us that he can be a reliable No. 1 who can stretch the field and find the end zone if his quarterback can deliver the ball.

Now Mahomes will never have that reliable receiver. We can all hope that Tyreek Hill will turn into a complete weapon and build on his rookie year. We can see the potential in Chris Conley and pray he breaks out this season. We can trust John Dorsey and his assessment that Albert Wilson has a higher ceiling than what we’ve seen. We can also trust the coaches to bring out the best in Robinson and Jehu Chesson, this year’s fourth round pick.

The truth, however, is that none of these guys know the route tree, have the game experience, know the opponents or can provide the steady sure thing like Maclin. For an incoming rookie, that’s an odd proposition.