At his charity softball event here in Rochester yesterday, Bills running back LeSean McCoy made it public that he’s actively recruiting former Chiefs wideout Jeremy Maclin, who was surprisingly released by the team on Friday.
“I kind of understand because I’ve been through it. Maybe not to the extreme of being released, but being traded,” McCoy explained. “That’s basically telling you, ‘You’re not good enough for us.’ I understand that. He was hurt, but I played with him and I know the guys in the locker room and I know he can help us out tremendously. I’ve been doing my recruiting already. Don’t be surprised if it happens.”
Shortly after McCoy’s remarks, came a report from Jordan Schultz of the Huffington Post, who shared that Buffalo was already engaging in “preliminary talks” with the seven-year veteran.
#Bills are in “preliminary talks” 2 sign Jeremy Maclin, per source. LeSean McCoy is recruiting the WR and the team wants him onboard as well
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) June 4, 2017
As McCoy referenced, he and Maclin developed a relationship as teammates in Philadelphia from 2009-2012 under current Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. Ironically enough, Bills head coach Sean McDermott has the same familiarity with Maclin as he does with McCoy, having spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons with them as part of the Eagles defensive coaching staff, prior to becoming the Panthers defensive coordinator one-year later.
All these connections certainly make Maclin an intriguing option for Buffalo, but there are some things to consider. For starters, Maclin is coming off of a career worst season, where he hauled in just 44 catches for 536 yards and two touchdowns – all career lows. Compound that with the fact that at age 29 he’s already piled up a long list of injuries, including tearing the ACL in his right knee, twice.
Then there’s the finances of it.
With a salary cap increase expected for 2018, the Bills could have around $30 million in cap space next season, but – similar to this offseason – not a ton of proven talent on the roster and a plethora of holes and depth issues to address. In that case $30 million is a tight budget. Now that said, Buffalo was in a financial pinch this offseason and made it work, so there are ways to work around it. That’s why they pay Brandon Beane the big bucks. But of course you’d prefer your team to have more cap space if possible. Under the rule of 51, Buffalo maintains an estimated $12.3 million in cap space right now, which could come in handy in 2018, if Buffalo is able to roll that over into next season.
Now, you always have to account for some of that money being used for unforeseen incidents, such as injuries during training camp. Last year, for example, after rookie Reggie Ragland suffered an ACL tear the Bills went out and added Brandon Spikes to try to supplement the linebacking core. Things happen. At any rate, carrying over as much extra money as possible is an excellent, far-sighted idea.
However, to really decide whether or not the Bills should sign Maclin or not, one must consider what the team’s current mindset is.
As many of you know, I’ve maintained a constant belief that the Bills are closer to rebuilding than contending for championships, so the idea of rolling over that money does sound appealing. However, based on everything Sean McDermott has done – moves such as retaining Tyrod Taylor and convincing the soon to be 34-year-old DT Kyle Williams to stick out another coaching change – this team isn’t accepting rebuild right now and they’re doing everything in their power to be competitive in 2017.
With that in mind, signing Maclin makes sense for several reasons, first and foremost because the Bills receiving depth is shaky passed an injury haunted Sammy Watkins and rookie Zay Jones.
There’s also the Tyrod Taylor aspect.
The Bills need to decide whether or not Taylor is indeed the quarterback of the future and for the better of two seasons, the one thing Taylor can say is that despite his inconsistent play in the passing game he’s never seemed to have a full arsenal of weapons at his disposal, largely due to injuries.
Give Taylor every reason to succeed, so by the end of this season it’s clear whether he’s the guy or he’s not. It certainly doesn’t hurt to add a reliable veteran like Maclin into the fold, so that another Watkins injury here, or mishap there doesn’t leave Taylor throwing to primarily special teamers. The more the merrier in this case, especially the more is a proven NFL talent.
As for the structure of the deal, Buffalo should avoid a backloaded contract that pushes money down the line later, something McDermott has seemed to avoid since he took over. A one-year, prove it deal worth several million would be ideal, and would sort of be the best of both worlds in that it doesn’t leave Buffalo with a long-term financial commitment to Maclin, but improves the roster and more specifically the offense this season. That said, at 29, Maclin may be looking to cash in on a multi-year deal one last time, especially considering his injury history.
We’ll see how well McCoy’s recruiting tactics work and if McDermott can convince yet another player he has history with to join his movement in Buffalo.
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