This is the first in a series of articles which will explore potential free agent signings for the Jets. I am going to start with the most talent deficient group on the entire Jets roster, wide receiver. Former Eagle Jeremy Maclin is in the spotlight first.
Current talent on roster: The main reason for this move is the lack of talent available at receiver for the Jets. The only guy who deserves to be an NFL starter at this point in their career is Jeremy Kerley. Conversely, he himself is no more than a good slot option. Stephen Hill has some serious strides to make otherwise he could see the door next season. While Holmes looks more finished than Braylon Edwards does, which is saying something. Maclin at the age of 25 would be an improvement over any of the current WR and is also one for the future.
Possible: The first question we have to ask is can the Jets get Maclin? This time last year I would have said no. After his ACL tear in training camp and his venture onto IR on 30 July, the Eagles quite possibly will not resign him. Riley Cooper emerged with 47 catches for 837 yards and 8 touchdowns. This in effect may have made Maclin expendable. As the former Eagles Offensive Coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg might well be the most important piece of this puzzle. There is system familiarity which means that this match could well be on the cards.
Talent: Is Maclin the kind of talent the Jets need? I say undoubtedly yes. Maclin is not an elite number one receiver but let’s be honest very rarely do those guys make it to free agency. He runs a 4.45 and could be a very useful number two receiver. His best year came in 2010 where he had 10 touchdowns and 964 yards. He has failed to ever eclipse 1000 yards in a single season but has hovered consistently around 900 with 859 and 857 yards in 2011 and 2012 respectively. This production is very solid and if he is lined up next to a high round draft pick in the upcoming draft as well as Jeremy Kerley, the Jets could massively improve that receiver group.
Price: This is the major reason that Maclin could be such a good investment coming off his ACL tear. Maclin will not receive a huge amount of money. He may well not even see a lot of suitors. I think he could be signed on a one year prove it deal like LaRon Landry was a few years back. I think the prudent move would be to possible sign him cheaply for 2-3 years and hope that he returns to his pre-injury form as the Jets could not afford to lose him like they did with Landry after just one year.
Concerns: The main problem with Maclin has to be his injury concerns. Obviously, he had the ACL tear last year. More worryingly, he has only ever completed one year in full and that was 2010. Maclin has experienced lots of small injuries and even a cancer scare in 2011. This being said, when Maclin was fit in 2010 he was very successful as mentioned earlier but also even in shortened years like 2011 where he only played 13 games he was still productive enough to surely make the Jets very interested.
Overall: Maclin is a good system fit with his familiarity with Mornhinweg which can only really be a positive. He is a good route runner, who is fast enough to stretch defences both horizontally as befits the west coast system. Similarly, with 4.45 speed Maclin possess the talent to stretch NFL secondary’s vertically as well. The Missouri product is not an elite number one receiver, with his slender 6’0" 198lb frame but he could still be an exceptionally effective number two option. Maclin will come cheap if the Jets are clever and he could be a significant part of the puzzle which allows Smith to develop both in the present and future.