One of the disappointing sights of last summer was Maclin suffering his torn anterior cruciate ligament injury in a non-contact move during training camp at the NovaCare Complex. He went down, and the crowd hushed and, for anyone who has every witnessed one of these kinds of injuries, the sense was that it could be bad for Maclin.
A couple of hours later, after an initial evaluation, Maclin hobbled out to his car in the NovaCare Complex parking lot, his season ruined and his future uncertain.
We can fast forward to now, then, and we see Maclin rejuvenated after many months spent toiling behind the scenes, getting his health back and his mind right. He's an Eagle through the 2014 season, and there isn't a more excited player in the NFL knowing what waits ahead.
It's certainly going to be fun to watch Maclin work his way into an offense that in 2013 led the league in explosive plays, that set a franchise record for points scored, and that in head coach Chip Kelly's first season provided a glimpse of what could be.
Well, the Eagles just made themselves a whole lot better by keeping Maclin, who opted to sign a one-year deal with the team that selected him in the first round of the 2009 draft rather than see what free agency would bring. Maclin wants to be an Eagle, and that's exactly the culture that Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman want to continue to cultivate.
By keeping both Cooper and Maclin, the Eagles deepened their talent pool at wide receiver and, thus, increased their options in a go-go-go offense. We'll see how it all plays out -- who plays where and who the starters will be and all of the questions that those who are in a hurry to get to September want to be answered. One thing we know about Kelly is that it's wrong to assume anything and it's senseless to put a conventional stamp on any position or any scheme.
Maclin loved what he experienced from the new Eagles offense in the spring of 2013. He saw the open nature of the scheme and the many options and opportunities it would afford wide receivers with his skill set. Had Maclin stayed healthy, he would probably have enjoyed great productivity last season. As it was, he had to wait, work hard and exercise some extraordinary patience.
As his Eagles teammates went through the growing pains early in '13 and then found their stride down the stretch to win the NFC East and make the playoffs after a two-season layoff, Maclin put in his work in the shadows. He worked in the morning and then faded away in the afternoon. That's the life of an injured player in the NFL.
But now every team is 0-0. And every player is in the same stage of preparation for 2014. Maclin said on Friday he thinks that without question he will be on the field for training camp. If that's the case, he will be a welcomed sight. And if Maclin is where he thinks he is physically and makes it all the way back for '14, the Eagles are going to have another element to contend with in the passing game. Maclin has the entire skill set -- the size, speed, hands and intelligence -- to be a huge producer in this offense.
And now his focus is on nothing but the Eagles and 2014. There will be no free agency for Jeremy Maclin. He is an Eagle, and the deal he signed on Friday capped an extraordinary week for the team. It was, really, the kickoff for the offseason and the Eagles passed the test with flying colors. They locked up four key players, all of whom are going to be important members of what Kelly and his coaching staff have in mind for the season ahead.
What's next? The process continues. Roseman and Kelly have done an outstanding job setting up their to-do list and they've got more work ahead with free agency beginning on March 11 at 4 p.m. and the draft opening on May 8.
It's been a fun, fantastic and highly productive handful of days for the Eagles. They have momentum going in the right direction, and that is exactly what every team strives to have at this time of the year.