A recent Kansas City Star profile on former Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin shed some light on the wide receiver's activities during free agency. It also details the reasons he left to join former Eagles coach Andy Reid in Kansas City after six seasons in Philly.
The entire article is definitely worth a read, but there are some interesting nuggets about the Maclin contract situation that shine a light on the Eagles' offseason. Emphasis is mine:
"The bottom line is I think they tried to take advantage of his good nature," [family friend Jeff] Parres said. "They knew he wanted to stay and there was really no reason they didn’t want him to stay, and they tried to take advantage of him."
So when free-agency Saturday arrived in March, Maclin was intrigued by the prospect of an offer from the Chiefs and Reid but was inclined to stay with the Eagles as he went on a golf trip with Parres and family in Palm Springs.
Even when the Chiefs came at Maclin with a five-year offer worth an average of $11 million a year, Parres said, Maclin primarily wanted to know what the Eagles were thinking.
As Reid, quarterbacks Alex Smith and Chase Daniel and receivers coach David Culley were calling Maclin that day, "making him feel like he’s the greatest thing on Earth," Parres said, Maclin could "barely get (Eagles coach and de facto general manager) Chip Kelly to answer the phone."
"He called Chip Kelly five times Saturday: ‘Chip, can you just show me anything?’ " Parres recalled.
(At a news conference after Maclin left, Kelly said he had had a number of discussions with Maclin and said that "we couldn’t go as high as Kansas City.").
That Sunday, while Maclin was on the golf course, the Eagles called and countered by shifting money from year three of their offer to year two — which contrary to Kelly and published reports made it close enough to the same deal Maclin was offered with the Chiefs that Maclin was ready to stay.
As they stood on the 16th tee, Maclin’s initial thought was just that.
Then Reid called again.
And 10 minutes later Maclin was Kansas City-bound.
"It wasn’t the money; it was that 10 minutes," Parres said. "Jeremy said, ‘(The Chiefs) just wanted me more, and I think that’s where I should be.’ "
There's a lot to digest here. First, the idea of Chase Daniel being a pitch man for the Chiefs is pretty funny. But the biggest takeaway is the accusation that Kelly and the Eagles were looking to "take advantage" of Maclin's desire to stay in Philadelphia, and the idea that he signed with the Chiefs in part because they made him feel more wanted.
At this point, these themes sound pretty familiar to anyone following the Eagles. The idea that Kelly has a hard time connecting with his players is well-worn, though it is worth mentioning that free agency is a different beast. Reid had a longer relationship with Maclin, and the Chiefs play closer to Maclin's hometown of St. Louis and alma mater of Missouri.
Still, Parres (who essentially helped raise Maclin) is adamant that the wide receiver is no longer in Philadelphia because they didn't put up enough of a fight. This is in line with Maclin's comments during free agency, when he said leaving the team that drafted him was about more than the paycheck.
Ultimately, these revelations don't change much about the story of Maclin's departure. The Chiefs were willing to offer Maclin a contract that simply wasn't palatable to the Eagles.
Kansas City awarded Maclin a five year, $55 million contract, one of the league's richest contracts for a wide receiver. This deal puts him alongside players like Victor Cruz, Vincent Jackson and Mike Wallace. And while Maclin is undoubtedly talented, $11 million per year is a sizable amount for a receiver who only once topped 1,000 yards receiving.
The Eagles would go on to bring in several receivers after losing Maclin to free agency. They signed Miles Austin toward the end of free agency, and drafted Nelson Agholor with the 20th pick in the NFL Draft. Only time will tell whether the Eagles made the right move.