By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—After a month of shopping him around and apparently finding no takers, the Eagles cut ties with wide receiver DeSean Jackson on Friday.
As of this point, no one in Eagles management is saying anything to the media about why they parted ways with the former Cal star, but the speculation on social media as to why Jackson was cut is blowing up the internet.
NJ.com reported that the Eagles were troubled by his off-field behavior and alleged affiliation with a gang before the team officially released him. It was also reported that Jackson didn’t have good chemistry with head coach Chip Kelly, was missing meetings and his friends were having a negative influence on his life.
ESPN.com reported that team owner Jeffrey Lurie, Kelly, and general manager Howie Roseman discussed the situation with the team’s lawyers and concluded that cutting him was the best option.
Shortly after Jackson was cut and received the word that NJ.com had written a story about his reported gang ties, he released a statement and said: “I am not a gang member.”
For the record, Jackson has never been arrested or linked to a crime. There are photos on Google Images of the former Eagles receiver posing in pictures flashing a gang sign.
Two days earlier at the NFL Owners meetings in Orlando, Kelly told the Philadelphia media that he liked Jackson and thought he did a good job for the team in 2013. On Tues, Jackson said he had a phone conversation with Kelly and came away with the impression that he was going to be staying with the Eagles.
But you have to wonder why a team would cut a 27-year-old receiver coming off the best season of his career and get nothing for him? The Eagles are also taking a $6 million salary cap hit.
Granted, it didn’t help things when Jackson talked about deserving to his contract renegotiated at his locker a day after the Eagles lost a playoff game to the New Orleans Saints. During a loss to the Minnesota Vikings in December, Jackson got into an argument with the team’s receivers coach on the sidelines.
With his reported ties to LA street gangs, the Eagles see getting rid of Jackson as their way of protecting their brand which means they think that Jackson must have done something or is involved with something egregious enough to warrant his departure.
As a journalist, I am not going to make any judgments of the team or Jackson until we hear from all the parties involved. I would rather have the facts before I lean either way on this issue. That the team was willing to take the salary cap hit does speak volumes on the urgency they had in unloading Jackson.
Another thing to look at here is how quickly Jackson lands with another team. Jackson’s agent Joel Segal said six teams called him 30 minutes after his client was released by the Eagles. Carolina head coach Ron Rivera told USA Today that he was interested in Jackson.
If Jackson signs with another team before the end of the weekend or the end of the week, then maybe his issues aren’t compelling enough to keep him out of the league. Teams that need a good, speedy wideout like the New York Jets or the San Francisco 49ers will be glad to have him if he doesn’t have too much baggage.
At this point, Eagles fans want an answer from Kelly and Roseman for why the team let their best wide receiver go for absolutely nothing. Was Jackson that big of a jerk and a disruption to team chemistry? Was his reported gang affiliation that troubling to the team?
More importantly, can the Eagles find a comparable replacement or better to make up for Jackson’s production that can play right away?