The Ravens can offer plenty of opportunity, a strong-armed quarterback and a reunion with a former offensive coordinator. Maclin can give Baltimore an under-30 receiver who has great hands, strong route-running ability and proven playmaking skills.
Getting Maclin to run down deep shots from Joe Flacco would alleviate the Ravens’ frustration of not landing a game-changing wide receiver this offseason and losing top pass-catcher Dennis Pitta to another hip injury.
It was thought that the best way for the Ravens to solve their need at wide receiver was to sign Anquan Boldin or trade for one. Now, with Maclin surprisingly getting cut by the Kansas City Chiefs, there is a wide receiver available who has averaged 68 catches, 900-plus receiving yards and six touchdowns in his seven-year NFL career.
So why shouldn’t this be considered a done deal? It boils down to what deal the Ravens can offer a former Pro Bowl receiver who surprisingly hits the free-agent market and should draw interest from several teams.
Baltimore ranks among the bottom five teams in salary-cap space with less than $5 million in cap room. The Ravens will gain $2.5 million if injured tight end Pitta retires or gets released, and the team can open up additional room by again restructuring the contracts of cornerback Jimmy Smith and guard Marshal Yanda.
But Baltimore won’t win a bidding war if teams such as the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers — both of whom have more than $60 million in space — pursue Maclin. It could be just as tough if middle-of-the-pack cap teams such as the Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions go after Maclin.
New Ravens safety Tony Jefferson already has expressed interest by tweeting at Maclin after his release:
— Tony Jefferson (@_tonyjefferson) June 2, 2017
The selling point for the Ravens is all about football. In Baltimore, Maclin is guaranteed to see a hundred passes thrown his way, especially with Pitta injured, Steve Smith Sr. retired and Kamar Aiken signed with the Indianapolis Colts in free agency. The Ravens return just one receiver (Mike Wallace) who caught more than 34 passes last season.
With Flacco, Maclin gets to stretch the field once again after two seasons with game manager Alex Smith. The year before signing with the Chiefs, Maclin averaged 15.5 yards per catch and had seven receptions of 50-plus yards (second most in the NFL).
With Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, Maclin can return to a familiar system. Mornhinweg was Maclin’s offensive coordinator for his first four seasons in the NFL, when he averaged 64.5 catches and scored a total of 26 touchdowns.
The biggest knock on Maclin is his inability to stay healthy. He missed the entire 2013 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and he’s missed five games the last two seasons due to head and groin injuries.
Some might be concerned about Maclin coming off a career-worst season. He set personal lows in receptions (44), receiving yards (536) and touchdowns (two) in 2016.
But Maclin clearly is the best receiver on the market, and the Ravens clearly need a productive veteran to play alongside Wallace and Breshad Perriman.