Jeremy Maclin watched from the sideline as the Eagles’ offense set record after record in Year 1 under Chip Kelly.
He saw DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper have career years and envisioned himself playing a role down the line once his knee healed up.
"I’m excited to get a chance to play in Chip’s offense," Maclin said Friday at the NovaCare Complex. "I’m excited to be able to help this team get to the next level. I think this is a place where I can showcase my skills and I’m comfortable around all my teammates, guys who have been here. I think this was just the right spot for me."
Maclin and the Eagles discussed a long-term deal (five years), but ultimately the terms weren't right for the 25-year-old receiver. So he decided to bet on himself with hopes of agreeing to a new deal down the road.
"There was a multi-year deal out there," Maclin said. "It just wasn’t what I particularly wanted or my side particularly wanted. But we knew that we wanted to be here so I think this was the way to get it done, for me to come back here and play football."
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Jets and Broncos were interested in taking a run at Maclin if he reached free agency. His deal is worth a maximum of $6 million with $3.5 million guaranteed, a league source tells Tim McManus.
A fair question posed to Maclin was: Why not test the market for a long-term deal rather than settle for a one-year stint here?
"Here’s the thing. I don’t think it’s just for one year," Maclin said.
Added Howie Roseman: "That’s the hard part about this process with free agency coming up is that you never really know. And we’ve told him directly to Jeremy before he got injured and then again once he got injured that we wanted him back and that we were ready to go whenever he felt comfortable. For him, he also hasn’t had a chance to be a free agent in the National Football League. So it’s a process for him as well. And we understand that. Everyone’s gotta do what works best for them, but we were enthusiastic about our interest in him and bringing him back here and his fit with our football team. And we didn’t hide those emotions much to Jeremy or his agent."
So the plan is clear: Rip it up in 2014 and sign a long-term deal with the team that drafted him.
"The Eagles expressed that they wanted me back, and I think by them offering me a long-term deal, I feel like that made me comfortable enough to know that I’m in their long-term plans," Maclin said. "So hopefully come mid-season we’ll be able to do something where I’m here long-term."
As for Maclin's knee, he's six-plus months into his rehab. He tore his ACL for the second time during training camp, but the team had an advantage in monitoring his progress because Maclin did all his work in-house. Right now, he's able to run, cut and lift at the NovaCare Complex. He didn't have an exact date for when he expects to be 100 percent, but Maclin said "there's no doubt" he'll be full-go for training camp.
"When someone's in your building like that, it's not hard to go sneak down to the training room and check on them a little bit and see how he’s doing and go into the weight room and see how he’s doing," Roseman said. "The one thing about Jeremy is that throughout this season, the relationship was there. He was at our games, he was in the building every day so there was a lot of communication with him and we felt like we were kind of going through the process with him."
Maclin knew where he wanted to be all along, but with free agency just 11 days away, he wasn't sure how things were going to turn out until about 3 p.m. Friday afternoon.
In the end, he likes where he's at and holds the organization in high regard.
"They stuck to every word they said. Everything Howie was telling me has been true, and I respect that, and that’s definitely the type of place that I want to be," he said.
"I think I made the best decision for my situation. I really do."