The first post June 1 casualty of the year came in just minutes ago when the Kansas City Chiefs announced that they would be releasing wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. The Chiefs signed Maclin just two years ago as a prized free agent to a massive 5 year, $55 million contract, which he, not surprisingly, did not live up to. Maclin was scheduled to earn $10 million this season while carrying a $12.4 million cap charge. By releasing him now the Chiefs will save $10 million on the salary cap, carrying a dead money charge of $2.4 million this year and deferring $4.8 million to 2018. This will save the cap starved Chiefs immensely, increasing their cap space from a minuscule $2.1 million to around $11.5 million.
From day one the Maclin contract had all the makings of being difficult. Maclin was a good player who traditionally would have been looked at as a bit of a specialist capable of around 900 yards a season, which normally is worth between $8 and 9 million a year. But Maclin had a breakout season in his walk year in 2014 where he went off for 1,300 yards. Given that wide receivers of any merit rarely hit free agency Maclin was set to make a killing and he did just that. Like many before him in the same spot he disappointed.
The other thing that made it difficult for Maclin to live up to the contract was the team that he was going to. Maclin’s skillset really doesn’t fit that well with Alex Smith as he needed a team with the ability to drive the ball if he was to recapture that 1,300 yard season. Maclin had a respectable 1,088 yards in 2014 along with a very good 8 touchdowns, but saw his yards per reception fall to a career low 12.5. His big plays regressed back to his normal levels.
Maclin’s numbers took a giant nosedive last season as he caught just 44 passes for 536 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games, all career lows. Among relatively healthy players the only worse values on the year were Allen Hurns of the Jaguars and Torrey Smith, then on the 49ers.
Still the release is surprising since the Chiefs were so thin at receiver that it seemed he would be safe even with the bloated salary. When he made it past the start of free agency when the Chiefs were even tighter on cap room it seemed as if he was good to go.
Most likely the team had been trying to negotiate a pay cut with him for most of the offseason with a deadline of June 2 to get the deal done. The deadline likely had to do with the way they wanted to handle the cap hit. I’d expect Maclin to find a job relatively quickly, but at 50% of what he was going to earn this year.
At the end of the day the Chiefs will have paid Maclin $23 million for 1,624 yards and 10 touchdowns in two years. They will carry cap charges, however, for four years in total for Maclin which will make this one of the worse signings in recent times.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.