In the wake of what he recently called “a very odd season,” compromised by injury but also marked by a puzzling broader major drop-off in production, Chiefs receiver Jeremy Maclin spoke repeatedly the last few weeks about seeking redemption in 2017.
Much of his motivation for a return to the form that the Chiefs invested themselves heavily in, including being penalized for tampering with him, was rooted in the feeling that he had let down the team in 2016.
As of his blindsiding and seemingly abrupt release on Friday evening, though, the dynamics flipped:
The ultra-competitive Maclin surely will be incentivized now to make the Chiefs regret their decision after the team let him down.
“Crazy business this is…appreciate y’all #ChiefsKingdom,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
In harmony with the fundamentals of the late Friday news dump, the Chiefs provided no information about their reasoning and instead offered their sympathies.
“I’d like to thank Jeremy for his effort and dedication the past two seasons,” Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said in a statement. “I have great respect for all players, which makes decisions like these very difficult, but we felt it was in the best interest of our club moving forward to part ways at this time. We wish Jeremy the best as he continues his career.”
Echoed coach Andy Reid, who also coached Maclin in Philadelphia: “These decisions are never easy, especially with a player like Jeremy who I’ve grown close with on and off the football field over the years. I have a lot of respect for the way he goes about his business and how he handles himself as a professional. I wish him the best of luck moving forward.”
There’s no immediate way to know what exactly went into the decision, but it may be as simple as the most logical rationale:
Some combination of a perception of Maclin’s decline weighed against the money that could be saved cutting him (clearing $10 million in salary cap room) vs. what the Chiefs see in the rest of their anticipated receiving corps: Tyreek Hill and Chris Conley as the primary returnees, with a supporting cast of Albert Wilson, Jehu Chesson, Demarcus Robinson and De’Anthony Thomas.
Moreover, according to The Star’s Terez Paylor, “salary cap expert Joel Corry says the Chiefs’ top three 2017 draft picks — quarterback Patrick Mahomes II, defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon and running back Kareem Hunt — should take up approximately $4.4 million in 2017 cap space.” All three remain unsigned.
It also can reasonably be assumed it was nothing personal: Dorsey and Reid both know Maclin was a well-liked, respected and influential presence in the locker room, and Reid attended his wedding less than two weeks ago.
But nothing personal is a statement in itself, particularly only a few months after the Chiefs let Jamaal Charles go without so much as trying to negotiate with him before he signed with Denver.
According to reporting by Paylor, the Chiefs dabbled in talks with teams to try to trade Maclin.
But they never asked him to take a cut or renegotiate.
So the message again is “nothing personal” … we just don’t want you any more at any price.
That’s an exaggeration, of course, but the point is that a little personal touch might be reassuring in this cutthroat business.
Why not at least approach Maclin about reworking his contract, for instance?
Instead, the Chiefs are saying it’s all business and that no one is safe.
Some of that is healthy, and perhaps even necessary to demonstrate that all jobs are open and encourage competition.
But platitudes in Friday afternoon statements notwithstanding, some of it comes off as mechanical — especially when it comes to high-profile players who do the organization proud on and off the field.
Dorsey and Reid have worked wonders with an organization that was 2-14 and an absolute mess when they took over four years ago.
Their teams have won 43 regular-season games and notched the first playoff win in more than two decades.
They know what they’re doing and deserve the benefit of the doubt, and, actually, each is actually a sentimentalist at heart.
Emotions are no real factor in their decisions, though, as Maclin knows now.
But the human touch will be bubbling in Maclin, who wherever he lands no doubt now will be preparing to make up for letting down the Chiefs last year by trying to show them up this year.