The rub on the release of Jeremy Maclin

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 09: Jeremy Maclin
HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 09: Jeremy Maclin /
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Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

The remaining talent is ripening

Year over year, the growth of Chris Conley in his sophomore season may well be the most compelling reason to believe the Chiefs offense can sustain the loss of Maclin. He finished 2016 with 44 receptions and 530 receiving yards. That’s hardly comforting given what a healthy Maclin could contribute to this offense, but it is a sign that Conley’s on the path to becoming a more reliable option in the passing game. Only time can tell whether or not the third-year man out of Georgia can continue trending upward.

Beyond Hill and Conley, the Chiefs’ receiving corps is largely an unproven commodity. Albert Wilson is the only other receiver who’s logged an NFL start in that group. Jehu Chesson and Demarcus Robinson do have potential and athletic skill sets, but will be asked to contribute in a system that has high demands on young wideouts. The cupboard is much thinner without Maclin in the fold. Despite the possibilities, that doesn’t bode well for an offense that finished 13th in the league in scoring last season.

There are only so many balls to go around

If Hill’s a rising star and Kelce needs to maintain his position as the offense’s most prolific pass-catching option, is there really room for Maclin at this stage? Answer: Of course there is. I’ll prove that here in a moment, but let’s analyze a few numbers and establish a baseline first.

Since coming to Kansas City, Reid’s offense has averaged 332 completions per season. Kelce has averaged 81 receptions per season over the part of that stretch where he wasn’t injured. Running backs have averaged nearly 75 receptions per season going back to 2013. Although, that average is skewed by a 2013 season with abysmal production from the receiving corps. Dwayne Bowe led that group with just 673 receiving yards.

Are you more comfortable with the ball in the hands of Wilson, Thomas and Conley than a proven veteran like Maclin?

Hill’s been in Kansas City just one season, but if you account for his 61 receptions, there are still approximately 115 catches to split between Jeremy Maclin, Albert Wilson (27 reception-per-season average), Demetrius Harris (9 reception-per-season average), De’Anthony Thomas (31 reception-per-season average), and Chris Conley (30 reception-per-season average). By my count, Wilson/Harris/Thomas/Conley account for an average of about 97 receptions per season. That leaves just 18 balls for Maclin on the average year.

Ask yourself the following question though, are you more comfortable with the ball in the hands of Wilson, Thomas and Conley than a proven veteran like Maclin? Couldn’t a case be made that he would make more of those offensive opportunities than that assortment of skill players?

Take a gander at the following chart and you be the judge:

Yards-Per-Reception since 2013

  • Maclin — 13.5 average (two seasons)
  • Conley — 12.0 average (two seasons)
  • Harris — 8.0 average (three seasons)
  • Thomas — 7.0 average (three seasons)