Should The Broncos make a play for Jeremy Maclin?
The Broncos entered the offseason with the goal of revamping their offense. One facet of this challenge was finding a reliable third receiver to slot behind Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. In 2016, the Broncos had very little pass catching production from tight ends and running backs, making the offense easy to shut down and exploit. In order to fix this, John Elway and company brought in five new offensive playmakers, four rookies, and one veteran. Now this question is whether or not Jeremy Maclin fits into the Broncos puzzle.
Right now, the Broncos have a plethora of rookies, not-yet-developed offensive players, and lots of question marks. Tight ends A.J. Derby and Jake Heuerman both have extremely limited NFL experience, with flashes of potential. Rookie tight end Jake Butt was brought in via the draft as an injured player, so the future is uncertain with him though the Broncos are hopeful he becomes a threat in the passing game.
Wide receiver Jordan Taylor only saw playing time last year, and while his tape was encouraging, he is still a relatively unknown commodity. Former second round pick Cody Latimer is entering his third year in the league, and after a disappointing debut and sophomore campaign is probably facing a make or break year. Bennie Fowler has been solid for the Broncos as a college free agent signing, but he is probably not the answer to the Broncos offensive woes heading into his third year in the league. The two rookie receivers drafted by the Broncos are certainly fast and will help take the tops off defenses, but they add to a crowded position room lead by aging vets in DT and Emmanuel Sanders.
C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles head a running backs room that could be promising, but like every offensive position group, is filled with question marks. Both Anderson and Charles have injury concerns, and Devontae Booker struggled to produce as the lead back last year behind a poor offensive line. If Anderson, Charles, and Booker can effectively split reps and relieve one another, this could be a solid group. But things could go poorly very quickly if injuries start to strike and rookie De’Angelo Henderson is expected to start rather than act as relief.
Last year was a down year for Jeremy Maclin as he reeled in 44 receptions for 536 yards and only two touchdowns. Injuries did play a factor, as he missed four games and was probably affected in the games that he did play. 2016 was his first truly down year in the league. Prior to that, he only failed to produce 800 or above yards in his rookie year, all while hovering around a 60-80 reception range.
Maclin would make a great fit in the Broncos offense as they could fit him into the slot on some plays, allowing the quarterback to have three steady wide receivers to turn to. He would also work well in taking double team pressure off of DT, as opposing defenses would need to pay more attention to both Maclin and Sanders. Having Maclin line up with DT and Sanders would not only make the life of the quarterback easier, it would also open up the run game as teams would actually have to respect the Broncos ability to pass.
All in all, if the Broncos could sign Maclin, he would make a great addition to an offense that desperately needs a third threat in the passing game and is currently lacking someone who is more than potential or a raw rookie. Maclin could work as both relief for Sanders and DT, or as an extra receiver lining up in the slot. He might even work to open up some of the run game that was stagnant last year after C.J. Anderson’s injury.