The Kansas City Chiefs decision to cut Jeremy Maclin two weeks ago caught people off guard, primarily due to the timing. The team was looking to clear cap space, but waiting until June put Maclin in a tough position since most teams had already filled out their rosters.
Maclin has since signed with the Baltimore Ravens, but other players are not happy with how things went down. Former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith chimed in on it on Tuesday, citing his own experience with John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers chose to release him shortly before the new league year began. That gave him time to get in visits and sign while the market was still hot. Shortly after getting released, Smith signed a three-year, $15 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Smith said this makes him that much happier with how the 49ers handled his own release. He offered a shout-out to them for doing it sooner rather than later.
“I think it’s kind of messed up he got released late,” said Smith, who inked a three-year, $15 million deal with the Eagles back in March that contains little in the way of guaranteed money. “Shout out to San Fran for letting me know early because I would have been pissed the hell off if they would have cut me late in the offseason. But it’s the nature of the business. Nothing is ever set in stone and that’s just how it happens.
“It’s messed up. If he would have been in free agency, he probably would have done better than that. He’s a great talent. I think at this point he kind of probably feels how I feel, just wanting to be in a good situation to be able to play well.”
We’ve seen something similar with the New York Jets decision to release Eric Decker. There was no indication it was coming earlier in the offseason, but as the Jets continue their own rebuilding process, it is not surprising they moved on from Decker. That being said, it doesn’t make it any easier for the player. We’ll never know what Maclin or Decker might have gotten in free agency had they been released back in February or March.
This kind of action by teams is one more reason I strongly support players who choose to hold out for more money. Regardless of where they are in their contract, players have to look out for their own best interest. There are fans who want to see players take hometown discounts, or play out the contract they signed. Not for me. Teams regularly show little to no loyalty when it comes to the salary cap.
Earlier this offseason, the 49ers were rumored to be trying to trade tight end Vance McDonald. Shanahan and Lynch confirmed there had been some discussions, but nothing materialized. Shanahan said that the team wanted McDonald there, but they would always look for ways to improve. He was fairly blunt, saying, “All the guys we have here, we want here until you can get better.”
That’s perfectly fair for the team to do everything they can to improve. At the same time, it is perfectly fair a player to do everything he can to improve his situation. Eric Reid talked about treating it like a business with regard to whether or not the 49ers will approach him about contract extension. And that’s what it is. Yes, it’s a game they get to play, but it is also a business, and each person has to look out for what’s in their best interest.