So the Eagles cut him. They'll get no compensation for one of the better receivers in football. Jackson is a free agent, able to sign with anyone else.
That's quite a sudden end for a player who was coming off a fantastic season and just turned 27. He had 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns last season and on the field was a perfect fit in Chip Kelly's fast-break offense.
How much did the Eagles want him gone? They were willing to take a $6 million hit this year on the salary cap to cut him. By not designating Jackson a post-June 1 cut, the Eagles will take the entire hit this season as a result.
Off the field there were issues. He hoped to get a new contract, despite a base salary of more than $10 million. The Eagles re-signed Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper this offseason, which made Jackson more of a luxury than a necessity. Then there was a NJ.com story that said the Eagles were concerned about Jackson's gang connections. The story said specifically that the team was worried about Jackson's "continued association with reputed Los Angeles street gang members who have been connected to two homicides since 2010."
Although Jackson was not connected to either crime or even a potential witness, NJ.com said police interviewed him because of his relationship to one of the suspects. One of the men charged with a 2010 murder, Theron Shakir, is a rapper on the Jaccpot record label that Jackson owns, and Jackson has posted photos of himself with Shakir on Instagram, NJ.com said. LAPD detective Eric Crosson told NJ.com that he interviewed Jackson in 2011 because he believed Jackson might have had information on Shakir's activities the night of the murder. Shakir was acquitted of that crime, the story said.
The story points out that Jackson appears to flash gang signs in various photos on Instagram, and even seemed to flash a gang sign during a game at Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall last season, according to Larry Brown Sports. Jackson's agent Denise White said Jackson is not a gang member, and "far, far from it." The story says Jackson has been an active member of the Philadelphia community and has been involved with many charities. Crosson told NJ.com that police have no hard evidence Jackson is a member of the Crips gang.
"You don't want to see anybody throwing up gang signs like he did in the Redskins game last year," Crosson told NJ.com. "Those were neighborhood Crip gang signs and he flashed them during a game. He may not be affiliated with the gang, but they don't [ordinarily] take kindly to those not in the gang throwing up those gang signs."
In a league that dealt with the Aaron Hernandez scandal last year, any associations like the ones detailed in the NJ.com story will be examined by teams looking to sign Jackson.
Whatever the reason for the Eagles' discontent with Jackson, the writing was on the wall when Chip Kelly was noncommittal about Jackson's future with the team. Now he's free to sign with another team, but the rest of the league is sure to look very closely at the reasons why the Eagles were so willing to move on from a talented receiver in his prime without receiving anything in return.
UPDATE: Jackson, through ESPN's Adam Schefter, released a statement denying he is part of a gang:
"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."
- - - - - - -
- Sports & Recreation
- Philadelphia Eagles
- DeSean Jackson
- the Eagles