How Jeremy Maclin's Contract Situation Could Play Out | Eagles Addict
Jeremy Maclin

Photo: Michael Perez/Associated Press

When Joe Banner and Andy Reid used to run the show for the Eagles, they developed a relatively new strategy for how to deal with managing the salary cap and retaining their top talent.

What they would do is identify young players that they felt were on the rise and offer them a contract extension before they had a “breakout” season.  In other words, they wanted to get them at a more affordable, cap-friendly price before they could demand top dollar.

It was a calculated gamble by the Eagles’ front office.  From their stand point they could secure a potential rising star at a managable price and the player would get the security of a long term contract with a signifcant raise in pay while not having to worry about being injured before free agency.

At first, the Eagles were revered for this practice because it seemed like a great solution to the salary cap/retaining-top-players issue that has plagued many teams.  However, it was ultimately risky business.

With the exception of a few, this new way of doing business usually resulted in one of two things: Either the player would outperform their contract and they’d be looking for a new deal two years later, or they would underperform their contract resulting in wasted money for the team.

There was, however, another issue that resulted at times and it’s what leads me to Jeremy Maclin’s situation…

There were a few times, with players who rebuffed the team’s advances on a contract, that the relationship between player and team detiorated and ultimately led to a parting of ways.

A few cases in point…

Michael Lewis – He was the starting strong safety from 2003 – 2005 and was viewed as a tenacious hitter and a great pairing with Brian Dawkins.  He was a second round pick as part of the famed 2002 draft class and became a Pro Bowl player after the 2004 season.

During that offseason, the Eagles tried signing him to an extension before his contract was up but Lewis turned them down.  Mysteriously after that, Lewis’ playing time began to dwindle and he was eventually replaced in the starting lineup by 4th round rookie Sean Considine.

He was gone after the 2005 season, one year after earning All Pro honors.  They cited Lewis’ play as the reasoning but it seemed to be too much of a coincidence for that to be entirely true.

Jeremiah Trotter – This was an extremlely volatile situation. The Eagles wanted to extend Trotter prior to his rookie contract expiring. They could never agree on a dollar figure and the two sides went back and forth up until the end of the 2006 season.

While it could be viewed as purely a logical decision, the Eagles placed the franchise tag on him. However, the move appeared to be in spite because of the heated nature of the relationship between he and the front office.

Trotter made it known publicly he did not want to be tagged. When he was, he litterally went into Reid’s office and went on a tirade. The Eagles eventually removed the tag but the situation had gotten out of control and he was eventually let go (only to return two years later).

David Akers – He could be the most blatant example and has at least one thing in common with the Maclin situation.

During the 2010 season, the Eagles tried to work out a new contract with Akers and made at least one offer of which he refused.  After the playoff loss to the Packers, Reid uncharacteristically called Akers out after missng two field goals in a tight game.

At the time, Reid never threw his players under the bus and always shouldered the blame.  The team then followed that up by drafting his replacement in the 4th round (Henery) in the following draft.

Who did the Eagles draft in Rounds 2 and 3 again this year?  Oh yeah, two players that play Maclin’s position.

It was obvious that the team was pissed off about Akers with the only apparent reason being that he rejected their offer.  If they were that mad about his two missed field goals in the playoffs, they would not have placed the transition tag on him that offseason (prior to drafting Henery).

Brian Dawkins – No explanation needed here, right?  The two sides could never agree on money and the Eagles wouldn’t budge.  It has come out since then that Lurie regretted the way that situation went down, but mostly that is because Dawk is Dawk (i.e., one of the greatest Eagles ever).

I’m not trying to say that Maclin’s situation is the exact same as any of the above players nor am I saying that his relationship with the team will deteriorate.  Joe Banner and Andy Reid are long gone and there are no indications of the above type of behavior from the Kelly and Roseman tandem.

However, while things have been going well in the “reward your own players” department, it’s been a while since a player turned down the Eagles’ overtures in contract relations so it’s yet to be seen how the current regime handles such a situation.

Maclin is coming off a torn ACL and the Eagles wanted to sign him long term, but the money wasn’t to Maclin’s liking so he decided to just take a one-year deal with the plan that he’ll prove himself and warrant a bigger contract.

From the Eagles’ perspective, they like Maclin enough to want him around for a while but also saw an opportunity to maybe get him at a discount due to the injury.  When that didn’t happen, the team drafted two Wide Receivers in the first three rounds to hedge their bets.

If Maclin had signed long term, it’s quite possible that they wouldn’t have drafted both Matthews and Huff.  If one or both of those guys show promise this year, it may deem Maclin less valuable to the Eagles.

Not that I think Kelly or Roseman would, but could they “Mike Lewis” Maclin by not prominantly featuring him in the passing game thus allowing him to build the stats needed for stronger bargaining power?

Or would they “Brian Dawkins” him by placing a certain value on him and not budging?

The general consensus is that Maclin will have a great year and prove to be an excellent fit in Chip Kelly’s offense.  I think we’ll see him crack 1,000 yards for the first time in his career, but I’ll stop short of saying he’ll “blow up.”

No matter how he produces this year, Maclin could very well be gone after 2014.

If he has a good/great year, he might out-price himself for the Eagles.  If he has a mediocre year stats-wise and Maclin feels he was underutilized, it’s unlikely the Eagles would up their offer so therefore he’d want to test the market.

The one thing that could sway the Eagles’ mindset is how Matthews and Huff look this year.  If both of them look as promising as expected, Maclin could be deemed expendable if he doesn’t accept their offer.

If one or both of them struggle, the Eagles may not have the confidence in them to let Maclin walk.  Either that or Maclin proves to be so invaluable that it puts the pressure on the Eagles to up their offer to retain him.

One thing is for sure, it will be interesting to see how things play out.


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5 Responses to How Jeremy Maclin’s Contract Situation Could Play Out

  1. Buddyball46 says:

    I like Mac, but would let him go elsewhere after the season. I hate it when he goes down on the field and rolls around like he has a major injury only to go back in the game a few plays later. I have seen that way to many times and think it is pansy like. I would like to see a shift in the Birds philosophy and have them carry 4 or 5 TE’s and only 2 or 3 WR’s. TE’s can block better and give more potential special teams coverage.

    I would like to see more of a base in the I formation with Shady in the backfield and Casey lined up ahead of him with Celek lined up next to LJ, Ertz in the slot and Mac & Coop on the outside. This would give us a lot of better blockers, more players with abilities to make contested catches. Not many teams would have enough good coverage LB’s to effectively defend.

    I hear a lot of talk with teams fearing Sproles & Shady in the backfield but I do not think it offers much of an advantage or element of surprise as you know neither would be an effective lead blocker.

    • Hey Buddy, I get what you’re saying about Maclin. It’s one of my pet peeves about him…do you remember Jevon Kearse? Yeah, that’s what he reminds me of! I see him as a “decent” player but not someone who is special or irreplaceable.

      The Eagles carried 4 TE’s last year and likely will again this year. They’ll still carry 5 WR’s though, just like last year as well. Need to have a versatile skillset amongst all the receivers.

      If Sproles and Shady are on the field at the same time, you could see a few different things. One is that Sproles could line up in the slot and teams would have to choose whether to focus on him or watch Shady out of the backfield. If both guys are in the backfield and one heads one way and the other goes the other way, you go to the guy with single coverage and anticipate he’ll make one guy miss for a big gain.

      I’m looking forward to seeing what kinds of packages they’ll have for those two.

  2. tval says:

    Both made good points…I think casey needs more snaps, period..dude was way under utilized last season..I also think sproles and shady with matthews or cooper, ertz and celek would be a nightmare for defenses..better have 5 pretty good cover guys or chips gonna find a weakness, imo..hes shown to be sean paytonesque..its not about brees or foles..its about payton and chip calling unpredictable plays, having innovative motion, and formations, at a much faster tempo. ..until last year, I never saw a blown defensive coverage vs our offense, in what, 7 years it seems? We became so predictable, and thats the antithesis of payton and kellys respective philosophies..especially payton..hes amazing to me..

  3. Buddyball46 says:

    I am thinking if they had Sproles and Shady in the backfield and 2 WR and a TE in a formation that the Def would add a DB as they would not have be worrisome that one of the RB’s would be used as a lead blocker on a running play. I think the Def would play pass first.

    On the other hand it would be interesting to group Shady, Sproles, Casey, Mac, & Ertz in a hurry up. You could go I with Casey at FB. Or single back with 2 TE’s and Sproles on the outside. Do you think Sproles could be effective on the outside for a few plays? Enough to keep a CB lined over him? Shady in the back field and the rest split wide? Or Spoles in the slot motioning across the formation like Djax did last year? I just think if you play the 2 RB’s together you also need to have 2 TE’s in to bolster the thread of the run as neither RB would be a strong lead blocker. I would not mind seeing if Celek could line up as a FB and lead as well as Casey.

    • I can see Kelly getting very creative with how he uses Sproles…even though he keeps maintaining that he’s a “running back” and will “run the ball”. Sproles will certainly be used in a traditional sense at times, but he’ll also most likely be used quite a bit in motion, in the slot and out wide on occasion. I can also see them lining him up with McCoy in a 2-back set. No lead blocking…but defenses will have to account for it.


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