In what seemed to be the dumbest move made all offseason, the Kansas City Chiefs cut veteran wide receiver, Jeremy Maclin, recently. Maclin wasn’t the star of the Chiefs receiving corps, but he was an integral part. He drew attention off of rookie sensation Tyreek Hill, and star tight end Travis Kelce. Now, with Maclin gone, the Chiefs will have to rely on those two to take on the burden of trying to get out of double teams.
Looking at it from a roster standpoint the move makes little to no sense; however, there are a few ways this move makes sense.
1. Cutting Maclin Frees Up Cap Room
The first point is a simple one, so we won’t spend much time on it. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter said on Twitter, “By releasing Jeremy Maclin post-June 1, Chiefs save $10 million against (the) cap.” The Chiefs can use this cap to retain cornerback sensation Marcus Peters, whose rookie contract comes up next year. Peters has been a lockdown corner since the Chiefs drafted him in 2015, intercepting opposing quarterbacks 14 times.
So, purely from a cap space standpoint letting Maclin go, makes sense.
2. Maclin Missed Most of the 2016 Season
Maclin missed four games last season, but his stats dipped considerably. Granted he had lingering injuries most of the season, and he had Hill mentioned above, and Kelce, to fight for targets. Teams expect their number one receiver to perform better.
The Chiefs even let former star running back Jamaal Charles go because he has missed most of the last two seasons due to knee injuries. In fact, Charles hasn’t played a full season since 2013. GM John Dorsey has a history of letting players go when he feels they can no longer contribute to the team.
3. Who’s Left?
Chris Conley and Albert Wilson stepped up in Maclin’s absence last season and barring a complete fall off the map, I would assume they are safe. However, everyone assumed the same about Maclin until he was released.
Last year was Demarcus Robinson’s first season in the NFL, so he didn’t’ see much playing time. Because of that, we don’t know what he’s capable of in a game. This year will be his proving year, even with that, I don’t see the Chiefs cutting him if things don’t work out.
De’Anthony Thomas is the one who’s job is really on the line here. Thomas, who was drafted by the Chiefs in 2014, only has 331 yards on 47 catches in his career. The Chiefs have mostly used him as a special teams guy, but now they have Tyreek Hill for that. Unless Thomas improves as a receiver don’t be surprised to hear his name called next year on cut day.
Tony Stevens, Alonzo Moore, Marcus Kemp, Tevin Jones, Seantavius Jones, Gehrig Dieter, and Jehu Chesson round out the Chiefs receiving corps and are all either rookies, or this is their first year with the Chiefs. So, we will just have to wait and see how things work out with them.
4. Grooming Mahomes
It’s no secret the Chiefs are planning to move on from veteran QB Alex Smith, and Patrick Mahomes looks to be his successor. It makes sense that the Chiefs would want him to learn with players his age, and players who can get used to the way he plays the game. Instead of having a veteran receiver in there who is already used to his former QB, and you know the old saying “Old habits die hard.” The Chiefs running back corps are all under the age of 26, except for recently signed C.J. Spiller. Getting players who Mahomes can play with for the majority of his career seems to be the goal of GM John Dorsey, and Head Coach Andy Reid.
Mahomes isn’t starting until, at the earliest next season. So, players will have one year with Smith under center, but, in practices, they will work with Mahomes too.
5. Chiefs fans shouldn’t worry
There are many Chiefs fans, who are understandably worried about this next year, and how the young relatively inexperienced receivers will fare. Most of the corps we’ve never seen on an NFL field.
Thankfully though, early reports from rookie mini-camp and OTA’s are saying that Chiefs running backs are looking great. Third round pick Kareem Hunt is shining especially bright. It sounds like the Chiefs won’t have to rely solely on the passing game, and can put the majority of the load on the running game.
Another reason not to worry is head coach Andy Reid is an offensive God, his whole career he has been able to make something out of nothing on offense.
Also, the Chiefs defense is stellar. When people think of the Chiefs they think defense. There’s a good reason for it too. In the divisional round of the playoffs against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Chiefs defense held the Steelers prolific offense to only field goals. Unfortunately though, due to the fact their offense also couldn’t get anything done against Pittsburgh’s defense, they lost the game.
Hopefully, the young offense will be able to remedy that this year. The oldest member of their roster offensively, is 13-year veteran QB, Alex Smith.
This move makes one thing obvious, the Chiefs are looking towards the future, and are hoping their young players will be able to step up and take over the game. Filling in the hole left by Maclin. Making the entire front office look like geniuses in the process.
Even if the young receivers don’t live up to expectations, here’s to hoping Mahomes can change all that next year.