From some reason (money), Jeremy Maclin -- the receiver who managed to go over the 1,000-yard mark with Alex Smith as his quarterback -- is a free agent in June. On Friday night, the Chiefs surprisingly cut ties with their best receiver, which means they're seemingly banking on Travis Kelce catching all of Smith's check-down passes when they're not running gimmicky plays for Tyreek Hill.
That's great news for the rest of the NFL. Suddenly, a receiver who's averaged roughly 68 catches, 914 yards, and seven touchdowns per season in his career is available. So, don't expect Maclin to last long on the open market. Someone -- maybe a contender, maybe a receiver-needy team with a ton of cap space -- will eagerly scoop him up.
With that, let's rank the 32 potential landing spots for Maclin, broken up into four tiers.
Tier 4: We just cut him
Moving on ...
Tier 3: We're already set at receiver
There's an embarassment of riches, and then there's whatever it would be if one of these teams scooped up Maclin.
Tier 2: Never say never
We probably shouldn't rule out any of these teams, but when you consider things like cap room, recent draft picks and the depth charts of teams like the Dolphins and Falcons, they aren't quite good enough fits to crack our top tier.
Tier 1: The best fits
The Cowboys could use an upgrade at receiver. Hear me out: Dez Bryant is obviously locked in as Dak Prescott's top target, but Terrance Williams is not better than Maclin. Replace Williams with Maclin and let Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer fight it out for the slot role. The only issue, of course, is that the Cowboys just gave Williams a four-year, $17 million contract this offseason.
The Texans think of themselves as a playoff contender, and every playoff contender with a need for a receiver should be considering Maclin. Yes, the Texans already have DeAndre Hopkins -- a superior receiver -- but they're lacking a dependable second target for rookie Deshaun Watson, who will likely beat out Tom Savage in the summer quarterback competition. Will Fuller still has home-run potential, but he's also as inconsistent of a pass catcher as there is in football. The Texans could fit Maclin in as their WR2 and still use Fuller's big-play ability.
Plus, according to Spotrac, the Texans have the fifth-most cap space in the league.
Carolina drafted Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel, but they're still a little short on reliable playmakers. Kelvin Benjamin showed up overweight to OTAs, and he really wasn't overly impressive last season. The Panthers can't keep relying on Cam Newton to carry them. Maclin would be a great late addition to an offense that has potential if their rookies live up to the hype.
With Drew Brees nearing retirement and Adrian Peterson on the payroll, the Saints are definitely in win-now mode, even if their roster looks more like a 7-9 team. After trading Brandin Cooks, the Saints are in need of a top receiver. Fortunately, one just became available.
The Saints have the cap space ($12 million) to get a deal done.
The Seahawks are committed to pounding the ball with their assortment of running backs. Pete Carroll already made that clear this offseason. But they could still give Russell Wilson some more help. After tight end Jimmy Graham and receiver Doug Baldwin, Wilson's options are thin.
The Rams got rid of Jeff Fisher, but their offense still resembles a middle-school one in terms of personnel. With the exception of Todd Gurley, who may or may not be good, the Rams are lacking playmakers for Jared Goff. Even though they're paying Tavon Austin like a top receiver, he's not worthy of the role.
This would be a great fit. Maclin would instantly become the best receiver on the team. But it probably won't happen. The Rams have the least amount of cap space (less than $2 million) in the entire league. That's what happens when you owe WR1 Austin and WR2 Robert Woods more than $20 million in 2017.
The Eagles' biggest challenge would be cap space, as they have roughly $2.3 million left. But from a pure football perspective, Philadelphia is a fit. Alshon Jeffery is better than Maclin, but he's only on a one-year contract. Meanwhile, Maclin is almost certainly better than Torrey Smith (also on what is essentially a one-year deal), Jordan Matthews, and Nelson Agholor. Get Carson Wentz as much help as possible.
Shifting Golden Tate to the slot full-time wouldn't be the worst idea, and neither would giving Matthew Stafford three top targets in Tate, Maclin, and Marvin Jones. The Lions love to throw the ball in Jim Bob Cooter's offense and the NFC North still goes through an offensive juggernaut in the Packers. Adding a player of Maclin's caliber makes sense. According to Spotrac, they have roughly $9 million in available cap space. That's not a lot to work with, but it certainly wouldn't be impossible.
They have tons of cap space ($68 million!) and no established receivers besides Pierre Garcon. That's why it could happen.
Here's why it won't happen: The 49ers are committed to the rebuilding process and by the time the process is complete, Maclin might be past his prime.
The Titans might be the best team in the AFC South if Marcus Mariota can stay healthy for an entire season. Adding Maclin would be a win-now move. Even though the team drafted Corey Davis in the first round, relying on a rookie to be a top target is never the best bet, and he's still recovering from injury and may not contribute as much in Year 1 as a typical top-five pick. Tajae Sharpe never turned into the Fantasy sleeper of the year. Rishard Matthews ended up surprising us, catching nine touchdowns, but he'd be better suited in a complimentary role.
Maybe this will be the second straight offseason that the Bears luck into a great late roster addition. A year ago, it was Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton. This year, it could be Maclin.
The Bears have a need at receiver after letting Jeffery walk on over to Philadelphia. Former first-round pick Kevin White can't stay on the field. Cameron Meredith has flashed potential, but asking him to be the team's best receiver might be too much. Victor Cruz and Kendall Wright are nice low-risk signings, but they're unlikely to contribute in a big way. The Bears already bet big on Mitchell Trubisky. They should now go all-in on giving him a wide array of weapons.
Oh yeah, the Bears also have $29 million in available cap space.
Baltimore is my favorite football fit for Maclin. Steve Smith and Kamar Aiken are gone. Dennis Pitta is lost for the season with another hip injury. Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman really are Joe Flacco's most dangerous weapons. From a pure football perspective, this almost makes too much sense.
But money matters. And the Ravens don't have much left. Specifically, they have just over $2 million in available cap space.
Here's how it could work, via ESPN's Jamison Hensley:
The Ravens will gain $2.5 million if injured tight end Pitta retires or gets released, and the team can open up additional room by again restructuring the contracts of cornerback Jimmy Smith and guard Marshal Yanda.
No matter what, the Ravens won't be able to outbid someone. So, if Maclin prioritizes money (as is his right), he likely won't wind up in Baltimore.
The Browns aren't as bad as you think they are. Their strategy of stockpiling draft picks, retooling their offensive line, and not overspending on costly free agents is working, even if they're still Corey Coleman, and would alleviate the conditions for whichever young developing quarterback (Cody Kessler or DeShone Kizer) wins the starting job.Maclin would speed up the rebuilding process. He'd be the team's best receiver, would be a great mentor for
There's also this: The Browns have more than $60 million in cap space.