Jeremy Maclin has proved that he is a beast and one of the best wide receivers in the league. Countless “experts” and fans (and even some “expert fans”) said that the Eagles’ offense wouldn’t be the same without DeSean Jackson. It’s true to some extent…they don’t have one of the best deep threats in the league. But that doesn’t mean their offense has taken a hit without him in it. In fact, it has done the exact opposite. It has opened up for Maclin to succeed.
Maclin was signed to a 1-year deal this past offseason after coming off ACL surgery. It was unknown to what extent he’d be able to perform and if he’d stay healthy, and even if he’d be a top receiver when on the field. Just in case, the Eagles re-signed Riley Cooper to a big deal and drafted Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff. While Cooper has been a waste of money and time, Maclin has flourished in his first real year under Chip Kelly. Not even I saw this level of success coming.
He currently has 71 receptions for 1,088 yards and nine touchdowns in 12 games for Philadelphia this season. This puts him at eighth in the league in receiving yards, ninth in receptions and tied for seventh in touchdowns. He’s also top 10 in pretty much every other category for wide receivers. That’s a tremendous start. Even with a few games left to go, he’s already reached a career high in receiving yards and receptions and is one touchdown away from tying his career high. This is exactly the season that the Eagles were hoping from him.
But, with all breakout seasons on contract years comes the ultimate question at the end of the tunnel: How much will he ask for in his next contract? Clearly he deserves a raise from his $5.4 million cap hit he has this year, which is actually the 20th highest cap hit for a wide receiver this year. But how much does he deserve exactly? Should he get $8 million? $10 million? Even more? Well, the Eagles may be in a good situation based on the highest paid receivers this year, because many of them are under-performing. Here’s a look at the top 10:
1. Mike Wallace ($17.25 million cap hit): There is no way Wallace should receive this type of money, but Miami thought this would be his worth after proving to be a dominant deep threat in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, he’s been unable to keep that up after receiving a big contract. He currently has 661 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, which is okay, but nothing special. He in no way deserves that much money. His cap hit goes down to $12.1 million next year, but I don’t think that will help the situation. He’s massively overpaid.
2. Andre Johnson ($15.64 million cap hit): This is probably Johnson’s last year where people will even think he could be worth something. He was almost traded in the offseason for a pick, proving his value is clearly declining and the Texans are ready to move on. The problem is, no one else thinks he has much value either. He has 720 receiving yards and two touchdowns this season, which is pretty bad for the former No. 1 receiver in the league. This is his first real drop-off season, but the Texans need to do something about him for next year where he’s slated to receive a $16.1 million cap hit.
3. Calvin Johnson ($13.06 million): Last year Megatron was seen as the clear cut best receiver in the league, but I’d argue that’s not the case anymore. Sure, he’s been hurt this year and that’s why he only has 724 receiving yards and five touchdowns, but at only about 80 yards/game, he’s on pace to have one of his weaker seasons. His cap hit is going to jump to a scary $20.6 million next season…that’s a ton of money. He’s the only real outlier in the top 10, but even he isn’t doing as well since getting the big bucks.
4. Vincent Jackson ($12.43 million): Jackson was an excellent receiver the past two seasons in Tampa Bay, but this year has been terrible for him with the switching QBs. At just 702 receiving yards and two touchdowns this season, there’s no doubt the Bucs are wondering what went wrong with Jackson and their franchise as a whole. His career may be over.
5. Dwyane Bowe ($11.49 million): Bowe is probably the worst player on this top 10 list, but he’s been struggling for years now. It’s just strange that he is still getting so much money. He’s currently tied for 54th in the league in receiving yards with 569 and has no touchdowns. Tampa Bay’s offensive situation is terrible, but Kansas City’s isn’t much better. Bowe is long past the short period of time where he was a good receiver. He’s really bad.
6. Pierre Garcon ($9.7 million)
7. Brandon Marshall ($9.38 million)
8. Larry Fitzgerald ($8.6 million)
9. Marques Colston ($8.3 million)
10. Wes Welker ($7.65 million)
Only five of these receivers is getting $10+ million this year, but that number will jump to 10 receivers next year, including two that are $20+ million. Many of the receivers that will be on that list are worthless too, such as Bowe, Greg Jennings and Percy Harvin. These are essentially terrible players and they’re representing the highest paid people at their position. What does this mean for the Eagles then, who will very likely re-sign Maclin?
Well, first of all, giving him the franchise tag is definitely off the table because it’s way to expensive. The average salary of the top five players at WR would be $17.3 million…way too much.
The good thing is there aren’t too many WRs that will be free agents after this season, but some of the top guys in the league are in that list. Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant and Randall Cobb will all be looking for new deals, and they all should be big ones. I expect each of these guys to remain with the team they’re on, like Maclin, so no team is going to have to overpay to get one of these guys. Maclin has arguably had better seasons than both Bryant and Cobb, and especially Bryant will be getting a big contract since he’s the obvious top threat in Dallas’ passing game. But still, what will these mean for Maclin?
Well, the point I’ve been trying to make is that the current top paid WRs are just not that good overall. Many of them are either blatantly overpaid, washed up or both. Maclin is nearing the prime of his career and is having his best season, so he definitely deserves money, but not too much. If the Eagles were smart, they’d point out guys in his similar skill level and show that they’re making much less than other guys, which could drive down Maclin’s asking price. Unfortunately, Thomas, Bryant and Cobb could drive that price up a bit, but it still should arrive on a price somewhere in the $9-10 million per year range, which is exactly what Maclin is worth. Nobody cares that Jennings is going to make $11 million next year or that Harvin will make $10.5 million. The Eagles should be on track to both re-sign Maclin and get him for a reasonable price.