Browns: Would Jeremy Maclin be a target in free agency?
By Thomas Moore
Cleveland Browns general manager could turn to a familiar face if wide receiver Jeremy Maclin hits free agency in March.
The Cleveland Browns could use some help at the wide receiver position heading into the 2018 season.
Second-year receiver Ricardo Louis led the squad last season with 27 receptions for 357 yards, and it would be ill-advised for the Browns to see a repeat of that this fall if they want to start improving on that 1-31 record under head coach Hue Jackson.
The situation would improve remarkably if wide receiver Corey Coleman would be available for a full 16 games, something that has not happened so far as he has missed parts of his first two seasons with a broken hand.
Having Josh Gordon on the field for a full season would also be beneficial, but Gordon has yet to play a full season since entering the league in 2012, so counting on him for 16 games is still a bit of a dicey proposition.
Even if Coleman and Gordon can make it through all or most of the season, the Browns should still be looking to add to the position and one possible candidate could come from a player that is familiar to general manager John Dorsey.
According to NFL Network’s Gregg Rosenthal, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin may be on his way out of Baltimore just a year after signing with the Ravens in free agency:
"Signed in a headline-grabbing move last summer, Maclin was outplayed by Mike Wallace in 2017. The team could be starting from scratch again at the position if general manager Ozzie Newsome — in what is planned to be his last free agency period in that role — cuts Maclin, who is due $7.5 million."
Maclin arrived in Baltimore off a two-year stay with the Kansas City Chiefs where was signed by none other than Dorsey. (Let’s all agree to overlook that the Chiefs were penalized two draft picks for violating the NFL’s Anti-Tampering Policy when they signed Maclin, shall we?)
Maclin had a big first season with the Chiefs in 2015 as he finished with 87 receptions for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns. His production fell off the following season, however, as the Chiefs began spreading the ball around more and tight end Travis Kelce became a centerpiece of the passing game.
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After that season the Chiefs released Maclin, in part because they needed the $10 million in salary cap space that the move provided so the team could sign its draft picks. (Dorsey’s handling of the salary cap in Kansas City is probably another topic to avoid for the moment.)
So, if Maclin hits free agency, could the Browns be a match?
Going simply by the raw numbers, Maclin’s career seems to be in decline. After averaging 72 receptions for 977 yards and seven touchdowns in his first six seasons in the league (five with the Philadelphia Eagles and one with the Chiefs), he has averaged just 42 receptions, 488 yards and two-and-a-half touchdowns the past two years.
His numbers could just be down simply because Maclin only played 12 games in each of the past two seasons, but they could also be a sign that his game is in decline.
It is fair to wonder if Maclin would be open to considering the Browns after Dorsey was the one who released Maclin in Kansas City. Of course, money talks and if the Browns offer him a fair deal, Maclin could easily forget any disappointment or resent he might feel toward Dorsey.
The Browns would also not be paying Maclin, or expecting him to perform, as a No. 1 wide receiver if they brought him to town. Even if his numbers from the past two seasons were to continue this fall, he would easily be the team’s third-best wide receiver and could do some good things if paired with Coleman and Gordon.
Next: Browns: 5 tight ends to target in the draft
It is all speculation at this point, of course, as Maclin is still a member of the Ravens. But if he does become a free agent, it might be worth Dorsey’s time to give him a call about a reunion in Cleveland.