Had the Kansas City Chiefs released Jeremy Maclin in March, a reunion with the Eagles might've made sense. Now that it's June, that ship has probably sailed.
The fact that Maclin is coming off the least productive season of his NFL career – minus the year he lost to a torn ACL – isn't at the heart of the issue here. Simply put, the Eagles have moved on, signing a pair of free-agent wide receivers and drafting two more.
When the 2017 season kicks off on September 10, the Eagles are expected to go to battle with Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Jordan Matthews at receiver. Which one are they supposed to take off the field for Maclin?
It's not as if the Eagles have a lot of room on their bench, either. Rookies Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson should make the team, and most teams only carry five wideouts, six max.
That leaves one opening, maybe, and it's currently occupied by Nelson Agholor, who the Eagles paying regardless of whether he's on the roster. Even if Agholor gets the boot, his spot should go to somebody who can contribute on special teams, which is not going to be Maclin.
The roster gymnastics don't even take into account the repercussions with the salary cap. The Eagles have only an estimated $3.6 million to spare, according to Over The Cap. Is another receiver really a wise investment?
Coming from somebody who was critical of the Eagles when they allowed Maclin to depart as a free agent in 2015, I don't see the need or understand the desire to bring him back. Sometimes, the one that got away is gone for a reason.
Maclin is only 29, and despite the down season, he should have a few more good years of football ahead. Despite finishing with 44 receptions for 536 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2016, he's only one season removed from posting back-to-back 80-catch/1,000-yard/8-score campaigns.
But where does he fit in with the Eagles? Jeffery is the No. 1. Smith is the deep threat. Matthews is in the slot, where Maclin has seen plenty of work the past few years.
Perhaps that is Maclin's window. With Matthews entering the final year of his contract, there has been some trade speculation – though there's little evidence the Eagles are shopping him. Regardless, Maclin's presence would potentially make Matthews available, which might net the Eagles a nice little return.
Of course, that presumes Maclin is a better option that Matthews, which isn't necessarily the case. If it's up to me, I'm betting on the bigger, younger Matthews to have the better season in 2017.
Maclin will always be an Eagle in some sense. He was selected No. 19 overall in 2009, played six seasons with the team, and authored a memorable 2014 season in particular, racking up 85 receptions, 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns en route to his only Pro Bowl.
Maclin also chose to desert the Eagles as a free agent the following offseason, choosing his hometown, Andy Reid and a slightly better contract offer to join the Chiefs. There is no such thing as loyalty in the NFL.
If there is a strong argument Maclin makes the Eagles better, that's one thing. Given the depth at the receiver position and the financial restraints, it's difficult to conclude it's the smart play.
Who knows whether Maclin would even want to walk into this situation, when he can likely earn more money elsewhere and will be handed a defined role. Unless Matthews is traded today, what makes the Eagles more attractive than the Ravens, or the Saints, or the Raiders?
Believe me, the Eagles don't have to be interested in every name receiver that becomes available, especially right now. Maybe next year, when Jeffery, Smith and Matthews could all theoretically become free agents.
So might Maclin. At this stage of the offseason and given NFL trends – not to mention his rotten 2016 – Maclin will almost certainly sign a one-year deal. There's no urgency to jump on him right now.
Again, Maclin could open up some interesting possibilities for the Eagles. He can line up anywhere in the offense – a system he's already familiar with, having played for Doug Pederson – and his presence would allow the front office to explore trades.
But we haven't even addressed the elephant in the room. Can Maclin even be able to make this Eagles team?
Maclin's split with Kansas City was largely a cost-cutting move, as the club saved $10 million under the cap. However, the timing was fishy. Why did the Chiefs wait so long when NFL rules would have allowed them to designate Maclin a post-June 1 cut back in March?
Maybe the Chiefs didn't like what they were seeing from Maclin in OTAs. Maybe there is nothing to the appearance there was more to the decision. Yet taken with his poor performance last season, it's just one more reason why the Eagles should steer clear of Maclin.