Last week, the Kansas City Chiefs release of Jeremy Maclin served as a stark reminder that the NFL is a business. Essentially, teams are companies concerned about three critical things: their product, their bottom-line and their public perception. Obviously, employee relations falls somewhere on the list but not before the big three.
Maclin’s release from the Chiefs shocked many. However, the Chiefs reportedly shaved $10 million off their salary cap by cutting Maclin after June 1st. Team decision-makers attended Maclin’s wedding two weeks prior to filing their divorce from his services.
Crazy business this is…appreciate y’all #ChiefsKingdom
— Jeremy Maclin (@jmac___19) June 2, 2017
Of note, Maclin has an established history of injury. Only twice in his nine-year career has he completed a full, 16-games. He’s also 29 years old coming off his worse statistical season. The Chiefs reportedly dangled him as trade bait but nobody bit.
It’s hard to imagine a team offering a multi-year commitment to Maclin given his injury past. He will likely have to sign a one-year, “prove-it” contract. Meanwhile, the Chiefs will rely on a cast of relatively unproven receivers unless there’s a major acquisition on the horizon.
Former 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick continues to languish on the free agent market despite a recent visit with the Seattle Seahawks.
Speculation swirled that the Seahawks would sign Kaepernick but nothing happened. Nonetheless, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll had nothing but praise for Kaepernick in a recent press conference.
“He’s a starter in this league,” Carroll proclaimed.”I can’t imagine that — we have a starter, you know — but he’s a starter in this league, and I can’t imagine that somebody won’t give him a chance to play.”
Well, that of course is the issue. Nobody has given him a chance to play. Currently, there are a combined 96-128 NFL roster spots allocated to the quarterback position. Not a single one of those spots was offered to Kaepernick despite him being a “starter in this league”.
Let’s make one thing clear – Kaepernick is being blackballed for his silent protest against the social injustices that plague this country.
Other factors are at play besides what NFL front-office executives may personally feel about Kaepernick.
There’s also the public relations nightmare, media frenzy and political backlash that would he would bring with him. This must be weighed against what Kaepernick can do for a team’s product. As it stands, the scale isn’t tipping in his favor.
The Cincinnati Bengals signed rookie runningback Joe Mixon. Mixon knocked out a female college student, Amelia Mollitor, in 2014. It’s an incident that, prior to the 2017 NFL draft, sparked national debate and outrage.
Shortly after the draft, Bengals owner Mike Brown issued a public statement painting Mixon as a young man who made a mistake, served his punishment and deserved a chance to redeem himself. Brown also spoke highly of Mixon’s talent and what that potentially means for the Bengals going forward.
This is another example of a team weighing public perception against product. Unlike Kaepernick, the scale tipped in Mixon’s favor.
On one hand, you have a case where Mixon, a 20-year old with star potential, struck a woman. On the other hand, you have Kaepernick, a 29-year old yesteryear star who struck a vein.
That vein represents a national divide that is hundreds of years old and houses boiling blood. That vein is also why Joe Mixon will play football this season and Colin Kaepernick likely will not.
The product, the bottom-line and public perception – the business of the NFL.