Chiefs release WR Jeremy Maclin

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs made a stunning move at wide receiver Friday night, releasing veteran Jeremy Maclin.

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin checks in with the sideline during the team's 27-21 win over the New Orleans Saints at Arrowhead Stadium on Oct. 23, 2016. (Nick Tre. Smith/Special to The Topeka Capital-Journal)

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin checks in with the sideline during the team’s 27-21 win over the New Orleans Saints at Arrowhead Stadium on Oct. 23, 2016. (Nick Tre. Smith/Special to The Topeka Capital-Journal)

Maclin quickly reacted to his his release on Twitter.

“Crazy business this is…appreciate y’all #ChiefsKingdom,” Maclin wrote.

Coach Andy Reid issued a statement wishing Maclin good luck moving forward.

“These decisions are never easy, especially with a player like Jeremy who I’ve grown close with on and off the football field over the years,” Reid said in the statement. “I have a lot of respect for the way he goes about his business and how he handles himself as a professional.”

Maclin signed a five-year, $55 million contract with the Chiefs as a free agent in 2015. He carried a cap number of $12.4 million for this season.

The move saves the Chiefs $10 million in salary cap space this season. His contract includes $7.2 million in dead money, $2.4 million of which hits this year’s cap. The remaining $4.8 million of of his prorated signing bonus would apply toward next year’s cap.

The Chiefs currently have $3,511,734 in cap space for 2017, according to the current NFLPA salary cap report.

Kansas City also paid a hefty penalty for signing Maclin. The NFL ruled the Chiefs tampered with the former Philadelphia receiver before the legal contact period. The league docked the team a third-round pick in the 2016 draft and a sixth-round selection in 2017.

The league also levied Reid a fine of $75,000, reduced to $60,000 on appeal. General manager John Dorsey received a $25,000 penalty and the organization paid a $200,000 fine, reduced from $250,000.

The ninth-year veteran endured the worst season of his career in 2016. Injuries limited him to just 12 games, in which he caught 44 passes for 536 yards and two touchdowns.

The 29-year-old Maclin attributed much of his struggles last year to a nagging groin injury as well as a personal loss off the field with the passing of a longtime friend. But the receiver said he felt ready for a return to form in 2017

“I’ve got something to prove,” Maclin said last week following the start of organized team activities. “I struggled a little bit last year with injuries and everything else. I’m healthy, and I’m looking forward to getting this thing back on the road.”

Maclin posted the second 1,000-yard season of his career in his first year in Kansas City in 2015. He finishes his stint in Kansas City with 131 catches for 1,624 yards and 10 touchdowns in the regular season.

He owns 474 receptions for 6,395 yards with 46 touchdowns in his career.

Rookie Tyreek Hill moved into the lineup last season in Maclin’s place. The release of the veteran receiver suggests the Chiefs have growing faith in the speedster Hill, as well as returning starter Chris Conley.

The Chiefs also bring back Albert Wilson and De’Anthony Thomas, along with last year’s fourth-round pick Demarcus Robinson. The club invested another fourth-round pick this year in Jehu Chesson.

Chiefs general manger John Dorsey also issued a statement wishing Maclin good luck in continuing his career.

“I’d like to thank Jeremy for his effort and dedication the past two seasons,” Dorsey said in a statement. “I have great respect for all players, which makes decisions like these very difficult, but we felt it was in the best interest of our club moving forward to part ways at this time.”

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Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.

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