DeSean Jackson didn't change; the Eagles did when Chip Kelly became head coach. The Eagles knew about Jackson's alleged gang connections, his problems with authority, and his locker-room dramas long before Friday, when they released the wide receiver. They knew what they were getting when they drafted him in 2008. So for the team to imply that his off-the-field behavior or an NJ.com report that detailed his alleged connection to reputed members of the Los Angeles-based Crips gang had anything to do with the wide receiver's release would be disingenuous. The reasons the Eagles cut ties with Jackson after six seasons were many, but the overriding motive was a simple one: Kelly didn't want him on the team anymore. The Eagles coach has yet to explain the decision - nor did anyone from the organization on Friday - but Kelly's lower tolerance for Jackson than Andy Reid had is believed to be the primary explanation for why the team started shopping the 27-year-old Pro Bowl receiver on March 1. After no trade offers, according to multiple NFL sources, the Eagles were faced with only two prospects - releasing Jackson or bringing back a player Kelly didn't want. The NJ.com report provided the team with the perfect opportunity to soften criticism for cutting a superstar in the prime of his career while getting nothing in return. So rather than release Jackson on Wednesday, when they initially were contacted by NJ.com, they waited two days and cut him less than an hour after the story was posted. It's fair to wonder how much earlier the Eagles knew of the story and whether they were the impetus for its writing. Sources within the organization are cited in the story as being concerned about Jackson's association with a reputed gang member who was connected to a homicide in 2010 - two years before the Eagles gave Jackson a new five-year, $47 million contract and four years before they ultimately released him. The Eagles employ a security detail - "fixers" as they are sometimes known - whose job is almost exclusively digging up information on players. Jackson's association with reputed Crips gang members had been commonly known for years. Releasing Jackson after the story was posted also made it seem as if the Eagles came to the realization that they would now get nothing in return once teams were made aware of the connection. Every team, though, already knew of Jackson's reputation when they scouted the first-round talent before the 2008 draft. Jackson made strong denials in a statement, saying that his release had nothing "to do with any affiliation that has been speculated surrounding the company I keep off the field. I would like to make it clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang." With the timing of the release and the Eagles' refusal to answer any questions about it, they have shifted the onus onto Jackson. Teams will be reluctant to sign him now because of the public relations hit they will take.
In the end, Chip Kelly didn't want DeSean Jackson on the Eagles
Philly.com | Mar 29