Since then, Maclin has displayed a ridiculous amount of potential and he’s been a strong complement to speedy DeSean Jackson.
Maclin broke out for 70 receptions, 964 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2010, looking to be the next Pro Bowl receiver in Philly. His decline last year was justifiable, as he battled what seemed to be a cancer scare in preseason.
The fact that Maclin still suited up and played as many as 13 games at a fairly high level was astounding.
But he’s really struggled in 2012.
Against the Washington Redskins, Maclin was held without a catch all game. He was targeted just twice by rookie quarterback Nick Foles, who preferred checkdowns to Brent Celek, LeSean McCoy, or his top receiver in practice, Riley Cooper.
Maclin has totaled just 16 receptions for 154 yards and one touchdown in his last four games. He’s compiled just seven 100-yard receiving games since he was drafted. He’s just 6’0” and 200 pounds, and the Eagles may be better off with a bigger receiver to complement the speedy Jackson.
Jackson was re-signed to a five-year, $51 million deal this past offseason, and he’s not going anywhere at this point. Maclin becomes a free agent after 2013, and the odds of his returning to Philly on a new deal aren’t looking too good.
Maclin will cost the team just $2.343 million in 2012—a base salary of $993,250 plus a $1.35 million miscellaneous bonus. Those figures in 2013 are a base salary of $2.85 million and a miscellaneous bonus of $1.35 million once again, which counts as $4.203 million against the cap.
That’s an extremely reasonable price to pay a receiver of Maclin’s caliber. The problem though is that if the Eagles want to lock Maclin up for 2014, 2015, 2016, and beyond, they’re going to have to pay him a lot more than that.
Maclin won’t get the $10 million per year Jackson got or the $11 million Vincent Jackson got from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But he’s going to be just 25 years old, he possesses elite speed and he’s good for a touchdown every two games of his career.
That’s solid production, but it doesn’t mean Maclin is a good fit for the Eagles. The Eagles would be wiser to invest in another receiver with a larger build to complement the undersized Jackson.
The big names hitting free agency are Greg Jennings, Dwayne Bowe and Mike Wallace. Bowe would be the best option for the Eagles in terms of his size, although the Eagles would have to pay a lot of money for any of those three. Their best move may be through the NFL draft. It may be signing a lesser name and hoping he can play at a high level.
But as of now, retaining Maclin seems to be of less and less importance.