Jeremy Maclin's torn anterior cruciate ligament is a devastating career setback for a player who is entering a contract year. For new Eagles coach Chip Kelly, Saturday's injury is the first significant obstacle he must overcome in Philadelphia.
Kelly's offense relies on having wide receivers who can fly, and Maclin fits that requirement. It's a discouraging way for Eagles training camp to start, but all is not lost.
Receiver depth still strong
One reason I like the Eagles' chances of making a playoff push this season: Their skill positions are very deep. No matter what Kelly's offense looks like in the NFL, it figures to be up-tempo and rotate players more than most squads. He has the requisite depth to pull it off, even without Maclin.
At wide receiver, Jason Avant now looks like a far safer bet to make the team. Riley Cooper also could be breathing easier. Barring injuries, the Eagles still have Avant, Cooper, Arrelious Benn and Damaris Johnson behind DeSean Jackson on the depth chart. It's not a dominant group, but it's not bad. Benn and Johnson have some vertical skills to replace Maclin.
The Eagles also figure to rely on their tight ends and running backs more. Brent Celek, Clay Harbor and rookie Zach Ertz all are capable pass-catchers at tight end. LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and Felix Jones provide a lot of options at tailback.
Maclin is a big loss. But the Eagles can handle a missing starter at receiver easier than most teams.
2014 decision tougher
With Maclin in a contract year and Jackson's salary climbing next season, this looked like a "prove it" year for the two starters under Kelly. I expected at least one of them to be off the Eagles next year. Now the team will have to make a contract decision on Maclin with far less information regarding how he fits into Kelly's system. The injury could increase Jackson's chances of staying in 2014.
Filling void from within
A source familiar with the team's thinking told NFL.com's Ian Rapoport as much Saturday, saying the Eagles like their current set of skill players. This means guys like Brandon Lloyd, Laurent Robinson and Austin Collie are unlikely to get a call.
ACLs no longer a career-killer
The circumstances behind the injury were unfortunate. Maclin spoke this week about not holding out for a new contract, and NFL.com's Albert Breer reported that the receiver did not tear the medial collateral ligament in his knee, which is good news for him. Every injury is different, but Maclin is just 25 years old. He should be back playing at a high level. He just might have to take a short-term contract next year before getting the big guaranteed money he desires.
In the meantime, Kelly's Eagles will move on without Maclin. Kelly still should have enough weapons to make his offense work.
Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.