Rumors have run rampant for the last month that the Philadelphia Eagles might be looking to trade their Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson, with an outright release included in the possibilities.
Possible, but unlikely. At least until Friday.
The Eagles shocked the NFL, their fans, and likely a decent portion of their own locker room when they gave their leading receiver his walking papers amid a somewhat questionable report that Jackson himself had questionable personal ties to gang members.
The official roster move came less than an hour after a report by NJ.com provided pieces of information that indicated Jackson maybe, sort of, could possibly have at the very least loose ties to the violent street gang, the Crips. Perhaps.
In a court of law, the evidence would barely amount to circumstantial, but in a post-Aaron Hernandez NFL it is looked upon as sound reasoning. Release Jackson now and people like me question the move. Keep him and have something actually go down and the organization looks as if it is run by a bunch of fools.
Still, this can’t be the whole story. The NJ.com article is interesting, but if the Eagles are truly convinced of Jackson’s associations based off information like his rap label being spelled with a “CC” (because, apparently, “CK” stands for “Crips Killer”), they might really be a bunch of fools.
They’re not, so there is a lot more to this that we may never know because the Eagles would like to avoid a lawsuit.
To me, it comes down to three possibilities, and perhaps a combination of all:
1) The Eagles know far more than they’re letting on. Perhaps they’d done their own investigating. Perhaps some of Jackson’s teammates knew, heard or saw something and relayed it to Howie Roseman and Chip Kelly.
2) Jackson simply became a luxury the Eagles can’t afford. As Reuben Frank detailed a few days ago, the Eagles were facing a serious salary cap situation in 2015, a situation not helped by Jackson’s paychecks. If this year’s NFL draft is as loaded at receiver as Roseman and Kelly say, acting on Jackson sooner rather than later would be a smart move.
3) Perhaps the reason has more to do with Nick Foles. While Jackson is an explosive play-maker with an ability to stretch the field, he was utilized far less as such with Foles under center. Yes, he remained the team’s top target, but Jackson had his lowest yards-per-reception stat (16.2 yards) since his rookie season (with the exception of his injury shortened 2012 campaign) and caught only 12 passes thrown 21 yards or longer. As far as big plays, Jackson had his share, with 23 of his receptions ending as gains of 21 yards or more. But eight of those plays came on balls thrown by Michael Vick, including seven in the Eagles first three games.
Some knocks on Foles have always been his arm strength and accuracy down the field. And while the quarterback turned in spectacular numbers in 2013, much of his success – and passes – were limited to throws of 20 yards and fewer. Foles completed just 22-of-52 passes (42 percent) thrown 21 yards or more. This from a guy who competed 64 percent of his passes overall.
If you’re looking to build a winner with Foles, a high-priced wide receiver who doesn’t fit his quarterback’s skills and has a questionable attitude and friends doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Of course, time will tell. This is one Chip Kelly and the Eagles had better have right.