The Eagles announced today that they have released wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
The team has not released comment from owner Jeffrey Lurie, GM Howie Roseman or head coach Chip Kelly and is not expected to at this time.
The move came within 40 minutes of an NJ.com report that detailed Jackson’s connection with Los Angeles-area gang members.
The Eagles drafted Jackson, 27, back in 2008. He made the Pro Bowl three times in six years and put up career-best numbers in several different categories in 2013, catching 82 balls for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. But Jackson’s name surfaced in trade rumors earlier this offseason.
All along, it seemed like there might be some kind of smoking gun involved. The Eagles have had concerns about Jackson’s fit in the locker room and his off-the-field interests. The team had been discussing trading him since the end of last season, but when it learned of the NJ.com report, it decided releasing Jackson was the best option.
Per NJ.com, Jackson was associated with gang member Theron Shakir. Shakir was charged, but then acquitted of a gang-related murder back in 2010:
Acting on unspecified information that Jackson might have knowledge of Shakir’s activities on the night of Watson’s murder, LAPD detective Eric Crosson said he interviewed Jackson on the phone in late 2011. Crosson wouldn’t reveal details of that conversation, but he described Jackson as “cooperative at the time.”
Crosson also told NJ.com that he reached out to the Eagles by phone in early 2011 — even before he interviewed Jackson — as a courtesy to alert them to Jackson’s connection to an alleged killer. He never received a response from the team, he said.
In 2012, Jackson’s name came up in another gang-related murder in Los Angeles:
This time, Jackson’s name surfaced as part of an investigation into a 2012 gang-related murder that occurred outside a South Los Angeles business where a party had taken place. The building was owned or leased by a member of Jackson’s family, police said.
During a search of the building, Crosson told NJ.com investigators found several documents belonging to Jackson, including a car title, a gun permit issued in New Jersey and credit-card receipts.
Jackson was never considered a suspect in either crime, police told NJ.com.
Earlier this week at the owners’ meetings in Orlando, Fla., Roseman declined to take any questions about Jackson. And Lurie as well.
According to OverTheCap.com, Jackson’s release leaves the Eagles with $6.25 million in dead money.
From a football perspective, the move leaves the team thin at wide receiver with Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper as the projected starters.
Much more to come.