Count this as one less target for Alex Smith.
The Chiefs have released wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, the team announced.
“I’d like to thank Jeremy for his effort and dedication the past two seasons,” Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said in a statement released by the team. “I have great respect for all players, which makes decisions like these very difficult, but we felt it was in the best interest of our club moving forward to part ways at this time. We wish Jeremy the best as he continues his career.”
The move, a post-June 1 release, will immediately free up $10 million in salary cap space for the Chiefs, who will split his $7.2 million dead cap money over the next two seasons ($2.4 million in 2017 and $4.8 million in 2018), according to OverTheCap.com.
Maclin seemed to be caught slightly off guard by the move.
Maclin’s marriage with the Chiefs was fruitful in Year One, catching 87 passes for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns and emerging as Kansas City’s clear No. 1 target. Year Two wasn’t as prosperous, as the Chiefs became more of a 10-and-in offense, shortening the distance of pass attempts, utilizing playmakers on the perimeter and spreading the ball among targets.
Maclin’s numbers were cut in half, dropping to 44 catches, 536 yards and two receiving touchdowns. They nearly mirrored those of teammates Tyreek Hill (61 catches, 593 yards, six touchdowns) and Chris Conley (44 catches, 530 yards). With those two, plus emergent tight end Travis Kelce (85 grabs, 1,125 yards, four touchdowns in 2016), the win-now Chiefs decided they had enough options and would rather shed salary by releasing Maclin.
“These decisions are never easy, especially with a player like Jeremy who I’ve grown close with on and off the football field over the years,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “I have a lot of respect for the way he goes about his business and how he handles himself as a professional. I wish him the best of luck moving forward.”
Drafted 19th overall out of Missouri in 2009, Maclin began his career in Philadelphia where he played under Reid and established himself as a versatile receiver with reliable hands and big-play capability. Maclin followed the coach to Kansas City via free agency in 2015, and the Chiefs were forced to forfeit their third-round pick in the 2016 draft and seventh-round pick in the 2017 draft after violating the league’s Anti-Tampering Policy prior to signing the wideout.
His 44 catches were a career low, as were his 536 yards and 12 games played, but we don’t see that as an indicator of some sudden drop-off. He’ll surely be scooped up by a receiver-needy team and will probably exceed his 2016 numbers, depending on his new home.