Count Jeremy Maclin among those who were shocked by his release from the Chiefs.
In a recent video interview, Maclin was asked how surprised he was on a scale from 1 to 10. His answer?
“Eleven,” Maclin said, curtly, before adding he found out via a voicemail from Chiefs general manager John Dorsey. “I was upset, I was shocked.
“They’re not entitled to tell me anything, but I would just think that a guy who is going into his ninth year is being shopped or not,” Maclin said. “But it is what it is. I still have respect for Big Red (Andy Reid), I still have respect for the organization. I’m not going to badmouth anybody or talk any dirt.
“It was an unfortunate situation. They felt like they didn’t want me as a player anymore, so it is what it is. I’m happy with where I am right now.”
Maclin, whose release cleared $10 million in salary cap room, said he was not approached about a pay cut.
“There was not a discussion with me or my team,” Maclin said. “I’ve heard a lot of rumors coming out of there. I’ve heard I lost a step, I’ve heard my price tag was too high. Whatever the case may be, I’m reading to play some football. And that flame that burns inside a competitor, it got a lot brighter.”
I’ve got three major takeaways on this interview. First, Maclin was traveling to a football camp in Mississippi when he found out about his release and was at an airport when he got the voicemail, which means he was probably in the air when Dorsey tried to call him.
Second, the business of football stops for no one. Not even highly respected players. If the Chiefs wanted to release Maclin on June 2, they were going to do so, no matter what. That’s just how things work in this league.
Third, did you see how Maclin went out of his way to mention that he “heard a lot of things coming out of” KC and that the fire within “burns a little brighter?” That’s classic Mac, and that’s why I thought he’d sign with a team on the Chiefs’ schedule. If the money was equal, I’m sure he would have.
However, I still love his fit in Baltimore, and I fully expect him to have a season more in line with what he did in 2015 (87 catches, 1,000-plus yards) and 2016 (44 catches, 500-plus yards). Joe Flacco throws the best deep ball in the game, and on tape in Kansas City, you could see times where Maclin was open, or kind of open, deep and he was visibly frustrated because he wasn’t given a chance to make a play.
I wouldn’t mistake that for anything more, though. I could tell he wanted the ball more, especially during a difficult season filled with some personal tragedy (the death of his childhood friend), but he never complained to the media, ever, and he was given plenty of chances to do so.
Reid has a history of getting a lot of out of an average receiving corps. It’s a position, just like inside linebacker, that they simply don’t prioritize very highly, because Reid is so confident in his ability to scheme guys open. That’s why the two qualities he seeks the most in receivers is the ability to beat press coverage and the ability to catch the ball reliably, the two things that can keep a well-designed play from failing.
Those qualities are why a player like Jason Avant starred for so many years in Philadelphia under Reid, and why the Chiefs are willing to bank on their ultra-young receiving corps being a little better than you think.