The Cleveland Browns are foolish if they don’t at least explore the possibility of signing recently released receiver Jeremy Maclin.
Kansas City abruptly cut Maclin on June 2 after the wideout’s injury-plagued second season was largely a disappointment, to say the least.
It might be useful for Browns linebacker Jamie Collins to again send some words of encouragement to help sell the young but promising team to the veteran wideout. But then again, he might not even have to. Word is out after Jason McCourty filled us in on Collins’ influence on his decision to come to Cleveland.
Jason McCourty said today that his brother told him Jamie Collins loves it in Cleveland, something that influenced his decision. pic.twitter.com/ovr5x11SmN— Dan Labbe (@dan_labbe) May 24, 2017
So, why was Maclin released if he’s worth all the trouble?
His production lagged in 2016 for the first time in the last three seasons as he dealt with a nagging groin injury that cost him four games, but also essentially his entire 2016 season as he never looked to be 100 percent.
Also, while on that steady mend he was competing for targets with several others in an Alex Smith-led offense that wasn’t the friendliest for receivers.
Maclin, 29, still has productive football left to play, and it’d be best he played it in Cleveland, especially if the alternative is him playing for any of its divisional rivals. Baltimore is a team that has been lacking offensive firepower and makes a lot of sense for him, as many have noted.
Now, you can certainly argue whether or not he would even entertain the idea of playing for a team coming off a 1-15 season. And rightfully so, he’s approaching his 30th year on the planet, and we all know the dreaded stigma and actual problems inherent with reaching that landmark.
Are his best playing days behind him? Yep, that’s possible, but I don’t think so. He was electric in 2015 and is capable of doing that again when healthy. Turning 30 is not a death sentence for NFL receivers, so let’s not pretend he will wash out of the league in one or two more seasons because of it.
The Browns’ culture appears to be improving and outside opinions are changing. “Not contending” shouldn’t be the mindset of anyone in the Berea, Ohio, headquarters — it should be burned and buried if it makes an appearance — and any ideas of not pursuing productive players because of flawed thinking like that should be abandoned as quickly as possible.
Lastly, the only other conceivable reason not to pursue him would be the potential loss of opportunity for young receivers on the roster. While that sounds like solid reasoning at first glance, it’s hard to imagine the team’s signing a veteran receiver precluding others from earning their share of looks in training camp, preseason and in weekly practice. If anything, this newewst Browns regime has proven they value talent, potential and production over seniority and experience.
It’s a “what have you done for me lately” approach that thrives on driving competition at all positions. No player should feel content enough to stop striving to improve. And if those young receivers earn their stripes, they’ll deserve them, and they’ll get the playing time they’ve earned.
Maclin would help drive that competition, help mentor those players, and be a productive player on the field for the Browns in 2017 and, hopefully, beyond.
The only barrier in my eyes is convincing him to make his next stop in Cleveland.
Jamie Collins should find a way to help him make that decision