The NFL’s adoption of the ability to cut players in March with a post-June 1 designation was aimed in part at allowing teams to move on from a big cash and cap number without being required to let the player risk injury during offseason workouts. The Chiefs assumed that risk anyway with receiver Jeremy Maclin.
That’s perhaps the strangest aspect of Kansas City’s decision to wait until June 2 to cut the player who made $23 million over two years in Kansas City.
The Chiefs allowed Maclin to participate in five of the 10 OTA sessions before abruptly dumping him on June 2, spreading the total cap charge of $7.2 million over two year ($2.4 million applies this year). If Maclin had torn an ACL or blown an Achilles tendon or suffered another season-ending injury, the Chiefs would have owed him $10 million for 2017.
For Maclin, the risk was more than negligible. He has suffered two torn ACLs and gave the Eagles a scare three years ago during an OTA by inadvertently colliding with a defensive back, going down, and not being able to get up right away.
The Chiefs nevertheless were willing to assume that risk, possibly to see whether they could trade him (they reportedly tried a bit but couldn’t) or to see whether he still had it (Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star reports that Maclin looked “spry” during OTAs). Per multiple reports, the Chiefs didn’t ask Maclin to take a pay cut.
So, to summarize, they were willing to risk owing him $10 million, but they weren’t willing to keep him for 2017 at some dollar amount less than $10 million. And if the reason for the latter is that they wanted to give him a chance to make at or close to $10 million elsewhere, Maclin would have been in much better position to do that if they’d cut him on March 9, designated him as a post-June 1 release, and allowed him to hit the market while the money was still flowing.
The end result is that it was an unusual move, one which underscores the reality that no one is safe — and which should make everyone wonder who may be the next to be dumped, traded, or benched without warning by a Chiefs franchise that hopes to bust through whatever ceiling that is keeping them from returning to the AFC title game.