New Ravens wide receiver Jeremy Maclin suited up in his fresh No. 18 jersey for his first practice Wednesday morning.
Though Maclin mostly did just individual drills, his mere presence on the field provided a jolt of optimism around Baltimore, which is still giddy about his arrival.
So how did Maclin end up in purple?
Maclin didn't talk about the Buffalo Bills, and wouldn't say whether his free-agency decision really came down to the Philadelphia Eagles and the Ravens, as reported.
All he would say was Baltimore stood out from the beginning.
"It just felt right," Maclin said. "It was something about Baltimore from the start that caught me and kept it in the forefront of my mind."
Despite knowing of Baltimore's interest, Maclin first visited the Buffalo Bills over two days, where he was heavily recruited by running back LeSean McCoy and quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
While he was there, he was getting texts from Ravens players, including quarterback Joe Flacco, who told him to come to Baltimore and see what it's like. Flacco said he doesn't pitch people, but Maclin said Flacco briefly "expressed to me what we could do here."
Maclin and Flacco had actually met before while Maclin was with the Eagles, and they also bumped into each other once randomly in South Jersey.
"Joe is a cool dude," Maclin said. "Even back then, he was just so cool and laid back. You could tell he was a guy that a lot of people liked playing with and playing for."
When Maclin arrived in Baltimore, he went out to dinner with Wide Receivers Coach Bobby Engram, then watched Game 3 of the NBA Finals with several Ravens players at safety Tony Jefferson's house. While Maclin saw a lot of trash-talking, he also got a sense of the players' camaraderie.
"They're also able to let me know what's going on here and the fact that they want to get back to something special," Maclin said. "They believe that they have that. They believe that I can be a big part of that. That also played in to why I decided to come."
The next day, upon arriving at the team facility, Maclin talked with a host of people. He sat down with Steve Smith Sr., who the Ravens succesfully courted in 2014, talked with Head Coach John Harbaugh, Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and more. Maclin played for Mornhinweg for four years in Philadelphia.
"I told Coach Harbaugh this: all the stories I heard about him when I got to Philly after he left, it was nothing but positive vibes," Maclin said. "So, when I got a chance to come here and meet all the guys and meet the coaches, it just felt right."
Even Smith showed up to chat, as he was in town to do a shoot for the NFL Network and play in Lardarius Webb's charity softball game.
At the end of the day, Maclin left to ponder the decision with his wife of three weeks back home, and Baltimore stuck with him – and her. Maclin's wife grew up in Baltimore and attended Hilton Elementary School before moving to Philadelphia when she was 9 or 10.
"Everything that my wife said was always about Baltimore. I think that was probably a good sign as well. Happy wife, happy life!" Maclin joked.
And, yes, crab cakes for life is "an added bonus for sure."
At the end of the day, Maclin felt Baltimore was the total package.
"I just felt that Baltimore made the most sense, from a football standpoint, a comfort standpoint, and a personal standpoint," Maclin said.
The Ravens give him a great chance to win, as they've build an exceptionally strong defense and Maclin helps takes the offense to another level.
With Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman as the only two proven wideouts, Maclin will also see a lot of action. With Flacco's big arm, he can make plays down the field like he did in 2014 when he averaged 15.5 yards per catch and put up 1,318 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.
The system is also a fit considering his background with Mornhinweg. Maclin said there's some different terminology and wrinkles in the playbook, but the base is the same that he's been in for seven of his nine NFL seasons.
The decision itself wasn't as hard as what led to the decision.
The Kansas City Chiefs opted to wait until June 2 – after he had participated in five OTA sessions – to release Maclin. Tight against the cap, the Chiefs reportedly did so to divide his $7.2 million in dead money over the next two years instead of taking it all this season.
It was a move that "shocked" Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. Had Maclin been released before free agency opened in March, he may have been paid more.
"There were some things last year that were out of my control and that's kind of how things go. They kind of took them and ran with them. It is what it is," Maclin said.
"It hurt a little bit, how it went down and it being so unexpected. At the same time, it's a business and you understand how things works. There was only one choice but to pull it together and get things back on track."
Last season was difficult for Maclin. After back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and a trip to the Pro Bowl after the 2014 season, he posted career-lows in receptions (44), receiving yards (536) and touchdowns (2) last season. A big reason was that the 2009 first-round pick missed four games due to injuries.
Still, being released two years into a reported five-year, $55 million deal – in addition to the timing – didn't sit well with Maclin, and it provides motivation for him moving forward.
"Big-time [motivation], and not to prove them wrong, but you never want to be in a situation like that again," Maclin said. "Don't leave any room for doubt, any error. Just go out there and play football."