The Philadelphia Eagles enjoyed a strong 2013 season that saw them win the NFC East and qualify for the playoffs even without the services of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. The team clearly feels as though it can be even better with Maclin in the fold, though, as the Eagles and the explosive pass-catcher agreed to a one-year deal on Friday.
The Eagles announced the new contract via Twitter:
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the details of the deal:
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff McLane added another detail:
Maclin was expected to be a huge part of the Eagles' high-flying offense entering the 2013 campaign, but that never came to fruition. The Missouri product tore his ACL back in July, and he didn't play a single snap for the Eagles all season long.
Despite suffering such a devastating injury, Maclin was positive throughout. In fact, he seemed extremely confident in his ability to work his way back to the level he was accustomed to playing at, according to a tweet following the injury.
That doesn't mean that the injury didn't hit him hard initially, though. Per ESPN.com, it took Maclin a bit of time to come to grips with the reality that he would have to miss an entire season.
I was devastated. It wasn't the fact that it hurt, it was the fact that I knew what happened so I was emotional, knowing what was at stake. This is something that I love to do. I love to play football and knowing I'm not going to be able to do that, knowing that I'm not going to be a part of this new era here in Philly this year.
Prior to tearing his ACL, Maclin had been one of the Eagles' most consistent offensive producers. With DeSean Jackson drawing plenty of defensive attention across from him, Maclin put up three consecutive seasons with at least 63 catches, 857 yards and five touchdowns from 2010 through 2012.
Maclin was particularly adept at finding the end zone as he scored 10 times in 2010, which still represents the best season of his NFL career to this point. The fact that the Eagles didn't miss that production says a lot about Chip Kelly's offense.
Running back LeSean McCoy stepped up in a big way by winning the rushing title, and Jackson reestablished himself as one of the league's better receivers. The player who truly made up for Maclin's absence, though, was wide receiver Riley Cooper who received his own extension just a few days ago.
Although Cooper entered 2013 with a lot of controversy surrounding him, he was able to block it out and have a career season. Even though Cooper is a different type of receiver than Maclin, he assumed his role in the offense by accruing 835 yards and eight touchdowns while developing into one of Nick Foles' top targets.
Cooper's emergence could have made Maclin expendable, but the Eagles decided to build upon their offense. Foles has some experience throwing to Maclin as they played together during Foles' rookie season in 2012, so Maclin won't exactly enter the 2014 season cold. Foles does have a great rapport with Jackson and Cooper, though, which could put Maclin at a disadvantage in terms of his place on the depth chart.
With that said, there is little doubt that Maclin will be an interesting fit in Kelly's offense due to his speed and big-play ability, however, those aspects of his game may very well be compromised during the upcoming season. It takes some time to recover from a significant knee injury, and there is no telling how Maclin will bounce back.
Assuming he is ready to play, though, Kelly will be obligated to utilize him. Because Maclin's deal is just for a year, as opposed to Cooper's five, you can bet the former Missouri Tiger will be out to prove something in 2014.
Maclin will be just 26 years old at the start of the 2014 season, so his best days figure to be ahead of him. If he returns to form and progresses as expected, then the Eagles may very well have one of the NFL's most dangerous offenses in a very long time regardless of how Kelly divides the playing time.
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