What Does the Acquistion of Jeremy Maclin Mean for the Kansas City Chiefs?

Jeremy Maclin had a career year in 2014 with the Eagles, but now he's moving to a less advantageous situation in Kansas City.

According to a report by ESPN's Chris Mortensen, Jeremy Maclin is joining forces once again with head coach Andy Reid. This time, they'll be in Kansas City.

Obviously, from purely a needs-based perspective, the Chiefs signing of Maclin makes a lot of sense. But just how bad did the Chiefs need to sign a veteran wide receiver, and do they still have room to fill at the position? Also, relatively speaking, what will this mean for Maclin's production, as he'll be going from Chip Kelly's quick-paced offense to Andy Reid's West Coast scheme?

A Big Move for the Chiefs

To be quite honest, the Chiefs may have entered free agency with the biggest need at wide receiver in the league.

Below are the 2014 Chiefs wide receivers advanced Net Expected Points (NEP) metrics accompanied by their relative team targets within the offense. The data is sorted by descending targets.

NameTargetsReception NEPTarget NEPReception NEP/Target
Dwayne Bowe9568.1336.770.72
De'Anthony Thomas3113.495.640.44
Albert Wilson2818.326.020.65
Donnie Avery267.07-4.890.27
Junior Hemingway217.25-1.640.35
A.J. Jenkins156.001.940.40
Frankie Hammond114.09-1.950.37

As you can see, Kansas City was at a major point of need at wide receiver last year. The best wideout in 2014 in terms of Reception NEP -- the number of expected points added on catches only -- was Dwayne Bowe, who ranked 38th in the NFL. Considering there are 32 teams, that means plenty of team number-two wideouts were more productive than Bowe.

The rest of the Chiefs' wide receivers were merely replacement-level players.

With the Maclin signing, however, it likely means that the Chiefs will be letting go of Bowe, who is entering his age-31 season. If and when Bowe is dumped, it means the Chiefs will shed his hefty $11.2 million dollar per-year salary, and save around $5 million towards the cap this offseason.

Essentially, the Chiefs are replacing Maclin with Bowe. But does that totally solve their wide receiver issue? I'm not sure it solves it completely, but it's a good bit of help to go along with their emerging tight end, Travis Kelce. The table below presents Maclin's relative NEP metrics for the 2014 season.

Keep in mind, Maclin caught 85 balls for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns, which was a career year for the soon-to-be 27-year-old wide receiver.

NameTargetsReception NEPTarget NEPReception NEP/Target

Maclin surely is likely to not repeat his 2014 Eagles' success verbatim in Kansas City, but nevertheless, he's a strong signing for the team. As you can tell by his advanced metrics above, Maclin becomes far-and-away the best receiver on Kansas City -- based on 2014 numbers alone -- even when you factor things on a per-target basis.

One major difference for Maclin here, however, is the change of scenery. He's going from a system that thrives off of getting as many plays off as possible in Philadelphia to a short, quick-passed, ball-control system in Kansas City led by quarterback Alex Smith. Is this a good thing or a bad thing for Maclin's statistical output?

Alex Smith: The King of Short Passes

First of all, I want to dispel a common misconception about Alex Smith. Just because he doesn't throw a lot of interceptions doesn't mean he's a "smart" quarterback. At all. Smith just refuses to take risks or even make smart throws to open receivers, which is evident in the fact that his average depth of target of just six yards down field was last among all quarterbacks last year.

Here is how Alex Smith's Passing NEP per drop back stands up to Maclin's Eagles' passers, Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez.

NamePass NEP per Drop Back
Mark Sanchez0.15
Alex Smith0.10
Nick Foles0.05

For some context, Smith's per drop back Passing NEP last season was a little above average, which is solid considering the weapons he had. But his ceiling isn't as high as what you'd find in Philadelphia -- especially in that offense -- as evidenced by the fact that Sanchez's per drop back NEP of 0.15 last season was better than what Smith ever accomplished in a single year.

Not Statistically Friendly

On the surface, and as a team move, the Maclin signing makes a lot of sense for the Chiefs. But statistically speaking, you will be hard-pressed to find a less wide receiver-friendly offense in the NFL. Over the last 16 years Andy Reid has been a head coach, his offenses have only produced four 1,000-yard seasons from wide receivers. That's certainly not a good sign for Jeremy Maclin's statistical prospects.

Combine Reid's scheme with the fact that Alex Smith only attempted a pass of 20 or more yards down the field just 5.4% of the time in 2014 (the lowest average in the NFL), and you can see that Maclin could struggle to win deep often, something that he has proven to be quite good at. Last year, Maclin finished 15th in yards per target (9.4) and 10th in yards per reception (15.5).

Surely, signing Maclin is a huge help for a dwindling wide receiver group in Kansas City. They still need some depth beyond Albert Wilson, Frankie Hammond, and Junior Hemingway, but this is a great first step. But unfortunately, due to Andy Reid's offense and who is playing quarterback, Jeremy Maclin's ceiling may be capped in Kansas City.