COMMENTARY | With a new head coach in charge of the Philadelphia Eagles it is expected there will be a new philosophy in how the roster is put together moving forward. That means some players currently on the roster may not have a long-term future with the Eagles. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, entering the final year of his contract, could be one of the key players to keep an eye on as he looks to prove worthy of a new contract.
Maclin has been more of an overall offensive asset for the Eagles in recent years but he has been slowed by injury at times. Last season saw Maclin lead the Eagles in receiving with 857 yards and seven touchdowns. When on the field, Maclin has been relatively consistent since being drafted out of Missouri, but he is far from being considered among the best receivers in the sport right now. He was expected to be able to break big plays after the catch, as he did at times at Missouri, but that has not quite been the case since joining the Eagles. Whether that is a fault of Maclin's game or a product of the offensive system employed by former head coach Andy Reid may remain to be seen. New head coach Chip Kelly figures to bring some new wrinkles in to the offensive game plan. How Maclin is utilized compared to Reid's system could make the case for whether or not Maclin will stick with the Eagles with a new contract.
Kelly's offense may be better off with larger wide receivers than Maclin can offer. While Kelly's offense does not utilize big receivers to go up and catch lob passes, the larger and more physical receivers are often used to provide blocking for ball carriers, be they running backs or quarterbacks or other receivers. Under Kelly, the offense can have any number of potential ball carriers on any given play so having flexibility when it comes to blocking is an emphasis for the offense. Maclin's blocking is not one of his strengths and could show in the fall.
Of course, until the Eagles play a game it is unknown just how much similarity the Eagles offense will have to the system Kelly ran at Oregon at the college level. Kelly has never said the offense will be perfectly identical to the system he ran at the Pac 12 power and he should be football savvy enough to know where he needs to make adjustments on a more level playing field in the NFL.
As for Maclin's contract extension, we will have to wait and see how valuable he is to Kelly's offense. If he improves his pass blocking and comes through as a trusted go-to receiver, then perhaps the discussion of working on a contract extension can come in to play during the season. The Eagles tend to hold off on in-season negotiations though, so Maclin's contract may have to be put on hold until the end of the season unless Kelly sees something he knows he likes in training camp and perhaps in the preseason.
The big contract question to ask is how much value would Maclin command, or how much would he be offered by the Eagles? As the team sits right now, there is plenty of room to improve around the entire roster. Shelling out top dollar for a receiver who has been good but never great seems unlikely when that money can be committed to other players who may be able to help out in other areas.
Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer. Follow him on Twitter @krmcguire.
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