Chiefs release wide receiver Jeremy Maclin in surprise move

Organizations often wait until late on Friday to make moves or release news that they think might not be received well. It’s unclear if that was the strategy adopted by the Kansas City Chiefs, but the team certainly surprised many NFL observers Friday evening, when they cut veteran wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.

The timing can, in part, be explained by the fact that the release came after June 1, which will allow the Chiefs to save $10 million against the salary cap. Maclin, 29, was set to enter the third year of a five-year, $55 million contract he signed with Kansas City as a free agent in 2015.

Maclin was apparently among those taken aback by his release. He posted a tweet Friday saying, “Crazy business this is.” Less than two weeks ago, Chiefs Coach Andy Reid, as well as quarterback Alex Smith and other Kansas City players, attended the wide receiver’s wedding.

“I appreciate so many teammates coming and helping us celebrate our big day,” Maclin said at the time. “I think it goes to show how close we are as a team and how much we guys really appreciate each other.”

“These decisions are never easy, especially with a player like Jeremy who I’ve grown close with on and off the football field over the years,” Reid said in a statement. “I have a lot of respect for the way he goes about his business and how he handles himself as a professional. I wish him the best of luck moving forward.”

Maclin enjoyed a productive first season in Kansas City, catching 87 passes for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns, but he missed four games with groin issues in 2016 and slipped to career lows of 44 receptions for 536 yards and two touchdowns. He has frequently struggled with injuries during his eight-year NFL career, including missing the 2013 season altogether after tearing a knee ligament, the same injury he suffered while in college.

Still, some of the surprise in the Chiefs’ decision was the fact that the team now is notably inexperienced at wide receiver and has done little to bolster the position in the offseason. Kansas City’s presumed top four wide receivers are Tyreek Hill, Chris Conley, Albert Wilson and De’Anthony Thomas, who have a combined seven years and 251 receptions in the NFL.

The Chiefs waited until the fourth round to select a wide receiver, Michigan’s Jehu Chesson, in April’s draft. But they traded up in the first round to nab quarterback Pat Mahomes, so, combined with the releases of Maclin and running back Jamaal Charles, it is possible that they are in something of a rebuilding process.

For his part, Maclin should have little difficulty latching on with a new squad. He spent his first five seasons with the Eagles, and he left after posting 85 receptions for a career-high 1,318 yards, with 10 touchdowns.

“I’d like to thank Jeremy for his effort and dedication the past two seasons,” Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said in a statement. “I have great respect for all players, which makes decisions like these very difficult, but we felt it was in the best interest of our club moving forward to part ways at this time. We wish Jeremy the best as he continues his career.”

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