Jeremy Maclin discusses free agency, his health, and Michael Sam

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

With free agency just three weeks away, Eagles free agent receiver Jeremy Maclin remains hopeful that he can reach a deal to stay in Philadelphia.

"I’ve always stated, this is where I want to be. The Eagles have stated the same thing," Maclin said Saturday morning at the NovaCare Complex before the Philadelphia Soul tryouts. "We’ll continue to get on the same page with all that and get something done.”

Maclin spoke to prospective Soul players before the tryout. He was walking without issue and is "very pleased" with the rehab of his right knee. Maclin missed all of last season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in July. He will not be fully healed by the time he signs a contract somewhere in March, but Maclin is optimistic about his participation come the spring and summer.

"Training camp is no question," Maclin said. "OTAs I’ll be able to run around and stuff, probably just without contact. I’m in a very good place at this stage of my rehab.”

Maclin has remained in Philadelphia and has been around the team facility. The team has remained supportive of their former first-round pick, whom they were bullish about entering last season. 

Maclin and Riley Cooper are the two Eagles receivers about to hit free agency. General manager Howie Roseman hinted last month that the Eagles could potentially sign both. They have around $18 million to potentially spend this offseason when accounting for draft pick salary allocation and before any adjustments of other players' deals.

"I wouldn't say it would be a nonstarter that we couldn't have both back," Roseman said after the season. "Certainly, the door is open to having both."

It's considered a buyer's market, because the class includes some other attractive options -- Denver's Eric Decker, the Giants' Hakeem Nicks, Seattle's Golden Tate, Green Bay's James Jones, and New England's Julian Edelman are among the top names -- and the draft is loaded with potential starting receivers.

Teams must designate the franchise player tag by March 3, if they plan on using it. Players are eligible to begin talking to teams on March 8. Deals can be reached beginning on March 11. Maclin said it's too early to tell how the market will go. Maclin must decide between taking a short-term "show-me" deal, or sign a long-term deal that likely won't be of the same value he would have earned had he been healthy in 2013.

"With the way this thing is set up, I can’t really talk to anybody and anybody can’t talk to you," Maclin said. "I’m just taking it day-by-day.”


Maclin played for Missouri and remains close to the program. He knows former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, who publicly came out as gay earlier this week. Maclin has not talked to Sam this week. Maclin thought he might see Sam next week when Maclin visits Columbia, Mo., but Sam will be at the combine.

“I applaud him for what he did," Maclin said. "I think he did it at the right time. Sadly, in the world we live in, there are people who are going to question it and have some types of doubt about that. But for him coming out so early, it’ll give people a chance to kind of ask him questions, teams at the combine.

"I think that’s a good thing. But I also think, in this type of world we live in, there’s going to people uneasy about that. And when he goes into a locker room, there are going to be guys in there that are uncomfortable about that. That’s them and that’s how they are. But I think he did the right thing, and I applaud him for doing that.”

The Missouri locker room was accepting of Sam. Maclin speculated Sam might encounter some issues in NFL locker rooms.

"I think Mizzou was so accepting because he had already been there for four years," Maclin said. "I do think he’ll face some challenges. Should he? I don’t think so. But I’m being a realist right now.”