Jeremy Maclin was released by the Kansas City Chiefs, should the Bears be interested?
The Kansas City Chiefs, held up tight against the salary cap decided to move on from wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Maclin played in 12 games last season, catching 44 passes for 536 yards and two touchdowns. While he missed four games the move appears to be strictly money related, and in no way injury related.
Injury related or not, Maclin’s 2016 numbers were career lows across the board. Still, Maclin helped the offense in a major way when it comes to scheming and has two 1,000 yard seasons and two ten touchdown years in his career. With that all said, is Jeremy Maclin worth taking a chance on free agency?
The first question comes down to how would Maclin fit on the roster? The Bears depth chart is not loaded with talent but it does feature plenty of depth. Kevin White, Cameron Meredith, Josh Bellamy, Deonte Thompson and Daniel Braverman saw the field for the Bears last season. On top of that, the team signed Kendall Wright, Markus Wheaton, and Victor Cruz so far this offseason.
However, when digging into this depth chart, none of those names are locks to stick on the roster or make any impact moving forward. In fact, only Markus
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Wheaton and Kevin White are signed on the past this season, and both could be free agents after 2018.
The skill of Thompson, Bellamy, and Braverman is what led the Bears to add their three free agent wide receivers. Wright has missed 25 games in his five-year career. In the last two seasons he put up fewer yards than the 2016 version of Maclin. Cruz is a year older than Maclin, and is coming off of a season where he returned from a torn patellar tendon to catch 39 passes, for 586 yards and a touchdown. He is also much more limited on paper, in terms of scheming and alignments than Maclin is. Lastly, Markus Wheaton, who does have versatility in where he can line up on paper. However, Wheaton caught four passes last season, was only active for three games and has eight touchdowns over 22 starts in four seasons.
Then, there is Kevin White and Cameron Meredith. White would go from a player the Bears are leaning on heavily to make an impact to a player competing with Jeremy Maclin to be a top option in this offense. White, a former first-round pick has four starts in two years. There is a very bad track record for a first round pick wide receiver that cannot accumulate 500 yards in their first two seasons. It is tough to envision White making strides to break that mold next season.
Meredith was the leader of the team in 2016. He received for 888 yards and four touchdowns. However, drops and fumbles have been an issue in his game, and his best play would come as a secondary receiver or a big slot option. That is not to mention that Meredith will now miss most of the offseason with a thumb injury.
The Bears have signed multiple free-agent wide receivers, and have been busy signing free agents such as Cruz, Dan Skuta, Bradley Sowell and Michael Burton after the draft. However, they are still very much in good salary cap standing. Maclin would be the biggest impact of these post-draft signings and it would not be close. He has injury questions now, but none are bigger than White, Meredith, Wheaton, and Cruz.
Maclin would jump onto the roster and be the top threat on paper. He would ease the need for players such as White and Meredith to carry the unit, and add high end play to a group whose biggest positive is depth. A depth chart featuring Maclin, White, Meredith, Cruz, Wheaton and Wright all of the sudden has some name power top to bottom. The Bears should pursue Jeremy Maclin and should try harder than any other player in free agency to land this skilled and high upside wide receiver.