The Philadelphia Eagles sent shockwaves through the NFL by releasing wide receiver DeSean Jackson on Friday. The 27-year-old was coming off a career-best season, but the Eagles decided not to bring him back in 2014.
The team's announcement came shortly after NJ.com published a report by Eliot Shorr-Parks and A.J. Perez that outlined alleged connections between Jackson and suspected gang members in Los Angeles who have been connected to two homicides since 2010. Citing unnamed sources, NJ.com reported that the Eagles were more concerned with Jackson's off-field relationships and behavior than with his on-field performance.
CLICK HERE to read NJ.com report
ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported that the Eagles were aware of the alleged relationships detailed in the NJ.com report and opted to release Jackson rather than continue to pursue a trade because of related concerns.
"I can tell you there was absolutely concern within the Eagles organization about this and I think it got to the point where the Eagles knew not only about the revelations in that story, but they knew other information as well," Schefter said on Friday during an appearance on SportsCenter. "And it made it such that even in a cut-throat business where you're always trying to come out ahead and come out with a victory, the Eagles in their good conscience, could not fathom the idea of trading DeSean Jackson knowing he has some of the issues he does right now."
WATCH ESPN SEGMENT ABOVE
Shortly after being released, Jackson denied being a gang member in a statement released to Schefter.
Jackson recorded 82 receptions and nine touchdowns during the 2013 season and earned his third career Pro Bowl selection. Despite the standout performance in Eagles coach Chip Kelly's first season in Philadelphia, the team had reportedly been exploring trading Jackson before announcing his release. Jackson was due $10.25 million for the 2014 season and his contract extended through 2016.
While the team remained silent on its reasons for releasing Jackson, former Eagles quarterback and current ESPN analyst referred to Jackson as a "a toxic commodity" and revealed that he was "not surprised" by to the development while discussing it on SportsCenter.
Amid the widespread surprise at the personnel decision and speculation regarding its cause, Eagles center Jason Kelce shared a positive reaction to the release of Jackson.
We just made an extremely unpopular decision, but I couldn't be more excited and happy with where this organization is going!! #FlyEaglesFly
— Jason Kelce (@Jkelce) March 28, 2014
Former NFL wide receiver Donte Stallworth felt the move was indicative of the NFL's increased weariness of players' off-field behavior and relationships in the aftermath of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez being charged with first-degree murder in the June 2013 death of former semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.