After six seasons with the Eagles, wide receiver DeSean Jackson has been released, according to the team’s Twitter account:
After careful consideration this offseason, Eagles decide to part ways with DeSean Jackson. The team informed him of his release today.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) March 28, 2014
This decision comes just a few days after Jackson indicated he’d be back with the team. Apparently, that feeling was not mutual: reports say that the team was worried about Jackson’s connections with Los Angeles gang members. From NJ.com, in a story published just minutes ago:
Yet the Eagles’ apparent interest in jettisoning Jackson likely has little to do with his performance on the field or a big-money contract that could squeeze the team’s salary cap. Rather, sources close to Jackson and within the Eagles’ organization say, it’s Jackson’s off-field behavior that concerns the front office. A bad attitude, an inconsistent work ethic, missed meetings and a lack of chemistry with head coach Chip Kelly are the reasons, sources told NJ.com…
Now the Eagles have even more serious concerns — Jackson’s continued association with reputed Los Angeles street gang members who have been connected to two homicides since 2010.
Ever since New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged with first-degree murder last summer, NFL franchises have been reevaluating how closely they needed to watch their players away from the field.
Fair to judge a guy who has a (mostly) clean record based on the activities of his friends? Probably not. But when his teammates started comparing the situation to when Terrell Owens was in town, Jackson’s time in Philly was up. More than any other sport, football requires guys who buy into team philosophies and schemes, no matter what their talent level (see: Revis, Darrelle). Jackson wasn’t fitting into the Chip Kelly regime, for whatever reason, and now he’s gone.
Suffice to say, this is probably the reaction that most Eagles’ fans have about losing their Pro Bowl wide receiver:
— Brian Westbrook (@36westbrook) March 28, 2014
The Eagles must not have received a lot of interest when they put Jackson on the trading block, considering he was due to make $10.5 million this year. So the question now becomes: Who takes a chance on this guy, and for how much?
UPDATE: Jackson responded with a statement that Adam Schefter posted on his Facebook page:
Statement from former Eagles WR DeSean Jackson:
“First I would like to thank the Eagles organization, the Eagles fans and the city of Philadelphia for my time in Philly. I would also like to thank coach Andy Reed for bringing me in. Secondly, I would like to address the misleading and unfounded reports that my release has anything to do with any affiliation that has been speculated surrounding the company I keep off of the field. I would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang. I am not a gang member and to speculate and assume that I am involved in such activity off the field is reckless and irresponsible. I work very hard on and off the field and I am a good person with good values. I am proud of the accomplishments that I have made both on and off the field. I have worked tirelessly to give back to my community and have a positive impact on those in need. It is unfortunate that I now have to defend myself and my intentions. These reports are irresponsible and just not true . I look forward to working hard for my new team. God Bless.”
Photo via Getty