Red Zone

Chiefs’ Clark Hunt didn’t need much convincing to sign Jeremy Maclin

Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey (left) and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid welcomed free agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin following a news conference.
Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey (left) and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid welcomed free agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin following a news conference. The Kansas City Star

Whenever the Chiefs’ front office decides to hand out a large contract — like it did to lure Jeremy Maclin to Kansas City a few weeks ago — general manager John Dorsey has to run it up the flagpole, right to chairman Clark Hunt.

“When there’s a contract of that magnitude, I speak to John and occasionally (coach) Andy (Reid) about it,” Hunt said at the NFL’s annual meetings this week, when asked about the way the Chiefs conduct such business. “They included me in the process and I gave them the green light on it. They had their parameters and they were able to get it done within those parameters.”

Hunt believes in letting his football men do their jobs, but this is one of the ways he keeps his pulse on the happenings of his football team. And the truth is, when Dorsey explained why Maclin was worth the money, it certainly didn’t take long to convince Hunt.

“Obviously he’s a player who can get behind the secondary, something we really haven’t had the last several years,” Hunt said. “He’s a player that Andy was familiar with and maybe even more important, Jeremy’s familiar with Andy and our offense, so he’s somebody that should ... be effective sooner. He’s another player who is great in the locker room, and finally, Andy thinks he’s one of the best route runners he’s ever had at the position. So there were a lot of things to like about him, not the least of him was where he went to college.”

Hunt made this last remark with a chuckle, as the end of it was clearly a homage to the University of Missouri, where Maclin went to school. There was certainly plenty to like about Maclin, something the man who allowed him to walk via free-agency this month (Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly) admitted during the NFL’s annual meetings this week in Arizona.

“We tried to get Mac back,” Kelly said. “Felt like we gave him a real competitive offer. Kansas City offered him a lot more than we did and we just weren’t going to go that high.”

The Chiefs signed Maclin to a five-year, $55 million deal shortly after the free-agency period began, and quickly began touting him as a legitimate No. 1 receiver. He thrived in that role with the Eagles last season, catching 85 passes for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns, and while the Eagles had the franchise tag available and could have placed it on Maclin to secure his services for a one-year tender of $12.8 million, Kelly said that option was not palatable to the Eagles.

“Just the price of the tag,” Kelly said. “You can’t pay everybody. Everybody has the same amount of money. You gotta divvy it up however you’re going to divvy it up. We were inadequate in terms of the money allocated defensively as opposed to offensively. I think it showed in our play. We tried to balance that out.”

The Chiefs believe the Eagles’ pain is now their gain. Reid said there’s a very good chance Maclin will post better numbers than he did when he had to share the limelight with Jackson from 2009 to 2012, when he averaged 64 catches, 863 yards and nearly seven touchdowns per season.

“Well, we always knew that he was a great player,” Reid said of Maclin. “We felt that and we tried to divide it up a bit between those two and give them opportunities.

“I would imagine that he will probably catch more balls (now). He’s probably going to start at the Z position right now. That’s how we are looking at it. There will probably be a few more balls thrown in his direction.”

Reid reiterated that there were a few receivers they liked in free-agency, but Maclin was their top choice.

“Just because I know him,” Reid said. “I know him as a person and as a player. (General manager) John (Dorsey), he does all of that and he obviously asked me what I thought of Maclin. I had nothing but good things to say. It’s hard to find a hole in Jeremy Maclin.”

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @TerezPaylor.

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