Apr 01 2014

DeSeaned: Making Sense of Eagles Releasing Jackson

WR DeSean Jackson was the 49th pick of the 2008 NFL Draft. That draft did not have a single receiver selected in the first round, the only such draft since no receivers went in the first round of the 1990 NFL Draft. Jackson was a hit right away, gaining 106 yards in his first game. He would end it just as spectacularly, torching Arizona Cardinals CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for a 62-yard go-ahead fourth quarter TD in the Eagles’ eventual NFC Championship loss. Over his six years in Philadelphia, Jackson put together an electrifying highlight reel. No play is better than the New Miracle at the Meadowlands in December 2010:

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Jackson was the man. So why did the Eagles cut him so unceremoniously after a career year? And what’s all of talk about gangs? Gangs?!

I had several reactions to the Eagles cutting the cord on DeSean Jackson. The widespread outrage from some groups combined with the radio silence of others (namely, the Eagles organization and players). You can find their reactions elsewhere – I’m here to simplify the situation.

For starters, Jackson and his money were a sticking point with him. When the Eagles lost their playoff game to the Saints, Jackson mentioned that he’d entertain a new contract. Now, players get into contract talks every offseason. In a vacuum, it’s not a big deal.

However, this is DeSean Jackson that we’re talking about. The same Jackson who was a major problem for the 2011 “Dream Team” Eagles in a contract year. Jackson isn’t the same player when he has money on his mind. The Eagles began shopping Jackson then – in January. It reminded me of this:

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That’s former Patriots WR Randy Moss, who was coming of an 83/1264/13 line in 2009, complaining after the Patriots’ 2010 season-opener. Despite the fact that the Patriots only had two rookie tight ends and a WR coming off an ACL tear (Wes Welker), the Patriots traded Moss the following month.

Which brings me to my next point: Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. This is Kelly’s second offseason as an NFL head coach. Actually, it’s his second offseason in the NFL period. So you can understand that he is very protective about his identity of his team. But if there is an NFL mind he consults with, it is Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Well, not only did Belichick trade Moss (in the midst of a 14-2 season), he made the decision to part ways with WR Terry Glenn after Glenn’s sixth NFL season. Here is Bill Simmons describing the split between Glenn and the Patriots => Beware the Heartbreakers … Jackson, like Glenn in 2001, just finished his sixth season. Jackson’s high maintenance goes beyond Philadelphia. There is a reason why he was a 2nd round pick, and it wasn’t just his slight frame. He also was tough to deal with at Cal. He was removed from teams’ draft boards. Sometimes, that stuff weighs on you.

But perhaps the biggest thing is the story about the gangs. I thought it was terrible that certain networks immediately connected Jackson to Aaron Hernandez.  The Eagles’ timing was convenient maybe, but Jackson shouldn’t be attacked because he knows some people. If that were the case, there would be a lot more releases than just Jackson. It’s a shame the media eats it all up and spits it out, because the general public who choose not to think these things through take it in like a toxic diet. 

In the end, Jackson will find a team. He didn’t want to leave the Eagles. I believe he tried to work hard to stay, but ultimately, it was clear to both he and Kelly that a separation was needed on both sides.

Hopefully Jackson can be a better fit in his next locker room; it’s telling that fellow players haven’t really spoken up for him. They know the deal. This isn’t a Riley Cooper situation. Cooper messed up in a major way last offseason – and if he would have acted like Jackson all season (or the seasons before that), he’d be gone too. This was a move made about money and stress. Kelly will draft Jackson’s replacement, likely in Round 1. Remember, Philadelphia went 4-12 with Jackson and former head coach Andy Reid in 2012. The Eagles quit on Jackson while they were ahead.

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1 ping

  1. NFL 2014 Week 7 Gameplan »

    […] the last time I had to go in about a high-maintenance WR was when Philadelphia released DeSean Jackson. I’ll get to the Eagles in a moment, but the issue with Harvin in Seattle had to have been […]

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