Cowboys free agency: Can Jeremy Maclin help?

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 10: Jeremy Maclin /

The Cowboys need a proven receiver and for as unexciting as he sounds, Jeremy Maclin may be the right man for the job. Here’s why…

The Dallas Cowboys are getting shutout in free agency.  Not only are they failing to sign players they target (Sammy Watkins), but they’re losing players they wanted to keep (Keith Smith). So perhaps targeting a retread player like Jeremy Maclin, would fit both a need and a tight budget.

First of all, we need to address the budget. The Cowboys don’t have much money available on paper but they can create just about all the room they need. It’s become a game of bookkeeping these days, so we can never rule any idea out since all ideas are essentially “doable”.

Next, we must look at who the Cowboys traditionally like to target. Bargains. Sammy Watkins looked like he’d be a bargain. He was coming off a bad season and has generally had a pretty disappointing career. The fact that he got a deal as big as he did, is mindboggling.

But that’s what the market has become. Regular guys are pulling in astronomical amounts. Its resetting the market and frankly, it’s  making Dez Bryant look like he’s not as overpaid as he looked two weeks ago.

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The last great bargains out there are those declining veterans with little-to-no upside.

But for as unexciting as that sounds, those players still offer great value. The number of plays-per-dollar from these boring veterans are going to come out much better that these big swings teams are taking on guys like Sammy Watkins, at the end of the day.

Jeremy Maclin is a guy with low value but plenty of usefulness. The 29-year-old receiver has been a journeyman throughout his NFL career. But because of his experience in multiple systems, Maclin has learned to play multiple roles with success.

Maclin can play both inside in the slot and outside at the X and Z. He still has the deep speed to take the top off the defense and runs extremely crisp routes, something Dallas receivers struggle with immensely.

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Injuries have been an issue throughout his career. The past two seasons he’s only played a combined 24 games (missed 4 games each year). He only has two seasons over 1000 yards, meaning he’s a career No. 2 WR and never been a true No. 1.

Some hate the idea of Maclin because he doesn’t offer much more than what Dez offers. He’s a player on the decline who missed games and probably can’t carry a team. That may be true but Maclin wouldn’t be a replacement for Dez. He’d be a complement.

Maclin would immediately replace Terrance Williams in the lineup. He runs a full route tree and does so cleanly and quickly. If Dak Prescott wants to see separation, Maclin can give him separation.

If you’re relying on Jeremy Maclin, you may be in trouble. But if you use him as a complementary piece, he could win you some games.

The fact that he can play all three starting receiver spots is pure bonus because he can let Scott Linehan get creative in his utilization and help cover against injuries.

Perhaps the best news of all is he’s affordable. In Baltimore he was playing on a $2 year/ $11 million deal. It’s not outrageous to think he could be had for cheaper than that figure – even with the exploding receiver market.

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Adding Jeremy Maclin for the right price would help the Cowboys in their negotiations with Dez. He would upgrade their starting unit and cover them with depth and versatility. He would also make receiver a “want” instead of a “need” next month in the draft.

Note: the Cowboys must still draft a receiver this April, they just wouldn’t need to reach in the first round.