JEREMY MACLIN, the last major offensive weapon left over from the Andy Reid Eagles regime, will join his former coach in Kansas City when free agency starts tomorrow at 4 p.m., ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported last night.
The news was unexpected, given that there hadn't been much buzz about Maclin previously during the NFL's "legal tampering" period leading up to free agency, and the few reports that had surfaced spoke of Maclin and the Eagles continuing to try to reach agreement.
In fact, when news broke yesterday that Green Bay was retaining Randall Cobb at $40 million over 4 years, and that Baltimore's Torrey Smith was heading to San Francisco, it almost seemed the Eagles would be forced to meet Maclin's price, given the lack of comparable receivers on the market.
But Chip Kelly obviously believes his scheme trumps talent at most positions. That was why he was comfortable letting DeSean Jackson go for nothing a year ago, why he apparently put about as much effort into canvassing the league for the best LeSean McCoy deal as he does in selecting his workday wardrobe (jeans and an Eagles shirt). And in the end, Kelly presumably decided he didn't need to pay Maclin in the $10 million-$11 million-a-year range the Chiefs reportedly ventured into, after not getting a touchdown from any of their wideouts in 2014.
Kelly once again made it clear that while he appreciates hard-working players who buy into his way of doing things, he isn't necessarily loyal to them. Maclin suffered an ACL tear the first day of full training camp in 2013, worked his way back, bet on himself with a 1-year contract, and came through with a team-best 85 catches for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Like Todd Herremans, who woke up in Indianapolis this morning, Maclin is a respected vet. Unlike Herremans, Maclin is still a couple of months shy of 27 and would seem to be at his peak.
A little over a week ago, Maclin made an appearance on behalf of the Eagles and still sounded optimistic about returning, even as the deadline neared for the team to apply the $12.8 million, 1-year wide-receiver franchise tag.
"Both sides have made it very clear that we want to get something done, so hopefully, we can get something done," he said. "If it's supposed to happen, it'll happen. I want to be here."
When Maclin appeared at the University of Missouri recently for his induction into the school's athletic hall of fame, he stiff-armed questions about Reid and the Chiefs, made it clear his preference was to stay with the team that drafted him 19th overall in 2009.
Asked about Kansas City during his Feb. 28 appearance at the King of Prussia Mall, Maclin said: "You don't really know what's out there until free agency starts. I know on paper what teams look like they need receivers. I also understand, this is the place I want to be. We'll see what happens."
Where do the Eagles go from here? Their wideouts under contract are Riley Cooper, Josh Huff and Jordan Matthews. It's a good draft for wide receivers again, and if you figure the Birds aren't going to try to package picks to trade up for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, maybe replacing Maclin in the draft makes sense. Matthews was a solid rookie, Huff showed flashes. Kelly must have a lot of confidence in them.
Who's still out there in free agency? Richard Sherman's buddy, Michael Crabtree. Percy Harvin, the guy the Seahawks said they had to get rid of to get back to the Super Bowl. Kenny Britt? Cecil Shorts? Brian Hartline? Some guy in the Arena League who once played for Oregon?
Maclin won the Eagles' Ed Block Courage Award, voted by teammates, in 2014. At one point, asked about doubters - he'd torn the same ACL in college, some people thought he'd struggle after a second tear - Maclin said: "I had an organization that believed in me and organization that was with me every day of my rehab and understood what was going on. That is all I really needed."
Oh, well, so much for that.