Jeremy Maclin is going to be one of the most desirable wide receiver options on the open market, should he get there.
It’s hard to envision a scenario in which Demaryius Thomas or Dez Bryant is allowed to escape Denver and Dallas, respectively. That elevates the likes of Maclin and Randall Cobb to the top of the heap, with Michael Crabtree and Torrey Smith arguably a tier below them.
[Here’s a list of the free-agent wide receivers, courtesy of spotrac.]
The 24-year-old Cobb had 91 catches for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, while Maclin caught 85 balls for 1,318 yards and 10 scores for the Eagles. No matter which receiver you prefer, both have positioned themselves for big pay days — whether that be with their current teams or elsewhere.
What kind of money are we talking about for Maclin?
For that answer, we reached out to former agent and salary cap expert for the National Football Post, Joel Corry.
“It’s got to be somewhere between Greg Jennings and Dwayne Bowe,” said Corry.
Jennings signed a 5-year, $45 million deal ($9 million per year) with the Vikings in 2013 that includes just shy of $18 million guaranteed. Bowe inked a 5-year, $56 million contract ($11.2 million per year) the same offseason with $20 million guaranteed.
“He’s a $10 million per year receiver based on what he did,” said Corry, who believes Maclin will net at least $20 million guaranteed. “You want to say his numbers are inflated by the system? Yeah, you could say that to a degree. But what can drive it more than anything else, and I can’t stress this enough, is having a viable alternative.”
That alternative, Corry believes, lies in Kansas City. The Chiefs have not received adequate returns on their Bowe investment, and the Chiefs went the entire season without a touchdown from their wide receivers. Andy Reid might very well be in favor of making a reunion with Maclin happen.
“I think Philadelphia needs to be very careful about how they play this whole Maclin situation, knowing that there is someone that is very familiar with him that desperately needs a receiver,” said Corry. “They could be willing to pay him.”
Maclin has made it known that he wants to remain in Philadelphia. He likes the city, likes the organization, likes the system, and would prefer to end his career with the same franchise that selected him with the 19th overall pick back in 2009. To that end, it’s unlikely his representation will be unreasonable in negotiations with Howie Roseman and company. But that doesn’t mean he’ll come cheap. The 26-year old bet on himself by taking a one-year deal last season coming off ACL surgery. He followed that up with a career year, putting himself in a position to cash in.
Mutual interest aside, if the Eagles want to keep him, they are going to have to pony up.
If the two sides can’t see eye-to-eye, the Eagles could place the franchise tag on him. But that, too, will come at a steep price. The franchise figure for receivers this year will be just shy of $13 million, according to Corry.