After rubbing the genie's lamp once too many times this offseason, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin's third-and-possibly-last wish was granted: a one-year, everything-to-prove deal worth up to $6 million, with $3.5 guaranteed for 2014.
Maclin, 26, missed the final year of his original contract after tearing his ACL during a practice at training camp.
With spirits of Eagles fans deflated, and negativity running rampant, the show went on. Miracles, magical events ensued as the season unraveled, and heavy doubts vanished into thin air as the enigmatic first-year coach, Chip Kelly, led the Birds to unexpected heights. Kelly finished his rookie campaign with a 10-6 record and clinched the NFC East division title minus JMac.
JMac is back, and confident that he'll ball out in 2014, hence the one-year signing. This move, the front office may have thought, would mitigate a series of issues - but accomplished the opposite - causing a question jam on I-95 to Philadelphia.
Are Maclin's electrifying services - 258 receptions for 3,453 yards and 26 touchdowns in four seasons – a necessity in Philly? And if so, why only for a year?
This past Thursday, general manager Howie Roseman kept Riley Cooper from hitting the free agent market by re-signing the deep-threat to a 5-year, $25 million deal. Veteran wideout Jason Avant was swiped after eight seasons and now, the Eagless receiving core seem - on paper - nightmarish for defenses.
The question emerges once again: are the Eagles truly nightmarish with Maclin?
Why the Eagles' front office initially desired to re-sign No. 18 to a 5-year deal - we're not sure - but it’s something worth looking into. What was their reason, motive behind their decision to heed their slot receiver’s demands?
One possible answer is this: one who smelt it dealt it. We believe that Roseman corralled Maclin because he smelled the smoke coming from the grill cooking in … that’s right, DeSean Jackson’s backyard. Keeping Mac could: (1) lessen DJax’ workload, if he’s upset about it; (2) Keep opposing defenses honest; (3) convince DJax to reconstruct his deal.
Jackson, in 2013, was the primary target on the field, and topic of discussion off the gridiron. The speedster is due to earn a little more than $12 million this season, and OK, he deserves every penny – 82 catches, 1,332 yards and 9 touchdowns – that led the team in all three categories. To compare, Jackson is making what 49ers’ Anquan Boldin just agreed to make for the next two seasons. (Boldin re-signed with San Fran, inking a 2-year, $12 million contract.)
An ideal fit in Chip Kelly's offense, nobody sees Jackson in a Chiefs or Jets uniform in 2014. There is, however, speculation swirling around in Philly and that the Eagles may trade DJax away to free cap space. The possibility of this occurring is as real as the Nation’s Capital experiencing all four seasons in a span of two days. (This happened.)
Last week, Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com reported that the Eagles would be “open” to trading Jackson.
With a ball club chock-full with receivers, including backfield dual-threats LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown, and tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek, the Eagles’ aircrew may never land as long as Nick Foles is controlling the plane.
The Denver Broncos demonstrated to the League why grooming their wide receiver core during the offseason doesn’t work 11 months later. Denver hauled in Wes Welker last March to bolster their potent offense around Peyton Manning. The Broncos similarly, like Philadelphia, had a decent defense, with good edge rushers and a versatile secondary. Well, we witnessed their demise a little over a month ago, as their indestructible offense was demoralized by the Legion of Boom in Super Bowl XLVIII.
To compare JMac to Welker isn’t a stretch. Maclin is a solid option in the slot, played the position in college and his route running skills are impeccable. Needless to say, his 4.45 forty-yard dash speed exemplifies Kelly's plans to recycle the offensive schemes he used in 2013, especially the three-receiver-sets that found openings in the soft zones.
But the harsh reality is this. The return of Maclin is great. But their defense better improve if it’s a shot at the Super Bowl they’re aiming for.