Howie Roseman recently spoke about the complications involved with retaining free-agent wide receivers Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin.
It might be more complicated than he imagined.
On Friday, with more than a month before the start of free agency, the New York Daily News reported that the Jets are interested in signing Maclin to upgrade an offense that ranked 31st last year.
The story said the Jets are targeting Maclin and Steelers free-agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders, hoping to land one and maybe both. Signing Maclin, who missed all of 2013 after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in training camp, would reunite the receiver with Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who held the same position for the Eagles from 2006-2012.
At the end of the season, Maclin said he’d like to return to the Eagles and understood that he’d probably have to sign one-year deal coming off knee surgery. He said his “heart was in Philly” and downplayed the suggestion that he’d seek the highest dollar figure.
Although he’s had two knee surgeries, Maclin is just 25, has three seasons of at least 63 catches, two seasons close to 1,000 yards and one 10-touchdown season.
Maclin, drafted by the Eagles with the 19th pick in 2009 after the Eagles traded up two spots, had at least 55 receptions and 750 yards in each of his first four seasons, a feat accomplished by only seven other players in NFL history. Among those seven are Gary Clark, Larry Fitzgerald, Marvin Harrison and Randy Moss.
The Eagles have cap space and flexibility but are also expected to extend the contract of center Jason Kelce, have an active free agency and earmark funds for potential contract extensions next offseason, when several third-year veterans -- including Nick Foles, Brandon Boykin and Fletcher Cox -- will be eligible for new deals.
Given the free-agent attention Maclin and Cooper are likely to merit, the Eagles might not find it financially feasible for both to return. There’s even a small chance neither is back. Although Roseman has said he would like to retain them, he isn't blind to the reality of the situation.
If Maclin signs with the Jets, the sixth-year wideout would automatically be their most accomplished wideout.
The Jets, according to the Daily News, are preparing to release underperforming veteran receiver Santonio Holmes and will have more than $28 million in cap space to upgrade the weaponry around second-year quarterback Geno Smith.
Holmes, Jeremy Kerley, David Nelson and Stephen Hill combined for 126 receptions and 1,744 yards last year -- or just 412 more yards than Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson totaled by himself. Seventeen receivers last year had more touchdowns individually than the Jets’ four receivers had combined (7).