Crystal Ball: Jeremy Maclin

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles have eight players that are set to become unrestricted free agents: Jeremy MaclinRiley CooperMichael VickNate AllenDonnie JonesKurt ColemanColt Anderson and Clifton Geathers.

Tim and Sheil will look at one free agent per day and give their take on what should and what will happen with these players. Maclin is up first.

WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN

McManus: The Maclin camp doesn’t yet have a feel for what the market will bear. The picture is clouded because of the injury. For them, the focus right now in on the rehab. The key is a full recovery from the torn ACL. If he can get healthy and regain his form, everything else should fall into place.

Given his age (25) and level of production over the first four years of his career, Maclin is sure to draw interest assuming his recovery stays on track. He is running now (lateral movement is the next step) and is hoping to be on the field for OTAs. There’s a good chance he will get multi-year offers.

But at what price point?

It’s a bit of a risk, but it makes some business sense to sign a one-year contract instead of settling for a longer-term deal at a discount rate. Teams are generally reluctant to open up their coffers for players coming off serious injury. However, if Maclin can prove that he is back to his old self with a strong 2014, he could be in line for a serious pay day.

Maclin should re-sign with the Eagles for one-year, put up some big numbers in Chip Kelly‘s offense, and take it from there.

Kapadia: The Eagles should explore the possibility of signing Maclin to a multi-year deal if the price is right. In 2012, even with inconsistent QB play and a decimated offensive line, Maclin had 69 catches for 857 yards and seven touchdowns. This year, with the O-Line in tact and the quarterback on fire in a new system, Riley Cooper had 47 catches for 835 yards and eight touchdowns.

Maclin is 25 and only missed four games in his first four seasons. He can win consistently against man coverage, line up in a variety of places (385 of his receiving yards in 2012 came from the slot per PFF) and fits the culture that Kelly is trying to establish.

But there’s no need to shell out big money if a strong market emerges for Maclin. Cooper had done very little until he found himself in Kelly’s system. Given the money committed to DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy, along with Kelly’s emphasis on tight ends, there’s a strong case to be made that it might not be necessary for the Eagles to invest big dollars in their No. 2 receiver.

If I’m Howie Roseman, I keep in contact with Maclin’s camp, see how the market develops and stick to a specific number when determining whether it’s worth it to bring him back.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN

McManus: If another team comes in with a lucrative offer, I don’t see the Eagles matching. Maclin has torn the ACL in his right knee twice now (he suffered the same injury while at Missouri) and there is simply too much risk involved to commit big money before seeing the receiver in action.

The guess here is that the offers Maclin receives won’t blow him away.

“I’m a realist so I understand that’s a possibility,” he said of signing a one-year prove-it deal. “Me and my agent, me and my team will kind of get together and talk about what’s best for me and what’s best for the whole situation and just go from there.”

Maclin has relationships on this team and in this city, and knows that he has the chance to put up good stats in Kelly’s system. If he signs a one-year deal, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be in Philly.

Kapadia: I’m probably in the minority, but I think Maclin finds a home elsewhere. Teams don’t seem to be scared off by ACL injuries as much as they were once upon a time. Potential suitors will want to see where Maclin is physically, but it’s not like he had microfracture surgery.

My guess is the market for Maclin will likely be stronger than some anticipate (for many of the reasons I mentioned in my first answer). Even though there’s not one thing he does at an elite level, Maclin does a lot of things well. And he will be competing against free agents like Eric Decker and Hakeem Nicks. In other words, there should be significant demand.

I know Maclin likes it here, and I’m sure he is curious about the numbers he could produce playing for Kelly, but in a league where one play can end your career, guaranteed money often wins out. The guess here is that Maclin gets a lucrative offer elsewhere and moves on.

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