Just a couple weeks ago, Jeremy Maclin was exchanging vows at his wedding attended by some of his closest friends, many of them his teammates with the Kansas City Chiefs.
They became his former teammates Friday night.
The Chiefs released the veteran wide receiver in a stunning move midway through their voluntary workouts, bringing an abrupt ending to the tenure of what was arguably general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid’s biggest free-agent acquisition.
“I’d like to thank Jeremy for his effort and dedication the past two seasons,” Dorsey said in a statement. “I have great respect for all players, which makes decisions like these very difficult, but we felt it was in the best interest of our club moving forward to part ways at this time.”
The Chiefs have been struggling with the salary cap for few years, and they had just $3.5 million available before the move. By releasing Maclin after June 1, they saved about $10 million that they can use to sign their three remaining draft picks and any additional free agents.
Maclin was due a base salary of $9.75 million this season. His cap hit was $12.4 million.
“These decisions are never easy, especially with a player like Jeremy who I’ve grown close with on and off the football field over the years,” Reid said. “I have a lot of respect for the way he goes about his business and how he handles himself as a professional. I wish him the best of luck moving forward.”
The move certainly surprised Maclin, who tweeted: “Crazy business this is.”
Maclin was entering the third year of a $55 million, five-year contract with Kansas City. It was a deal that became even more costly when the Chiefs were found guilty of tampering in their pursuit of him and were subsequently stripped of two draft picks and dealt hefty fines.
The 29-year-old Maclin, who was drafted by Reid before playing five seasons in Philadelphia, was coming off a breakout 2014 season when he signed with Kansas City. He had caught 85 passes for a career-best 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns, earning a spot in his first Pro Bowl.
Maclin followed up by catching 87 passes for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns, giving quarterback Alex Smith a reliable downfield target. But he struggled with injuries and drops last season, and his production plummeted — he caught just 44 passes for 536 yards and two touchdowns.
“I’m excited about going out and having the opportunity to play football again,” Maclin said in April. “And I’m excited about this team. We were so close (last season). That’s one goal we have as a team this year. If we don’t get that, then we’ve failed. Our goal is to win a Super Bowl.”
Maclin had been a regular attendee at the Chiefs’ voluntary workouts, and spoke last week about his recent wedding, where Reid several Chiefs players watched him exchange vows with his new wife, Adia.
“I appreciate so many teammates coming and helping us celebrate our big day,” Maclin said. “I think it goes to show how close we are as a team and how much we guys really appreciate each other.”
Maclin had been working as the No. 1 wide receiver during voluntary workouts, and his departure leaves a major void in the passing attack. Chris Conley and Tyreek Hill return as the Chiefs’ top two pass-catchers and Albert Wilson has experience, but there is little depth beyond them.
Demarcus Robinson and De’Anthony Thomas have hardly played, while the Chiefs used a fourth-round pick this past April on former Michigan wide receiver Jehu Chesson.