After careful consideration this offseason, Eagles decide to part ways with DeSean Jackson. The team informed him of his release today.— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) March 28, 2014
Jackson had been the subject of trade rumors throughout the offseason, as Bleeding Green Nation has exhaustively documented. The Eagles had reportedly been shopping the wideout, asking for at least a third-round pick in return. The organization put out feelers prior to the 2013 season as well, and as with the previous offseason many didn't expect the Eagles to release Jackson if they didn't receive interest from other teams.
Jackson is coming off a career season, racking up 1,332 yards receiving and nine touchdowns on 82 receptions in Chip Kelly's offense. He was set to cost $10.5 million in base salary next season, however, and there had been rumblings that his personality didn't mesh with the environment Kelly is trying to create in Philadelphia.
A report released Friday by NJ.com went even further, claiming that Jackson had connections with street gang members in Los Angeles, and that officials inside the Eagles' organization were concerned:
Ever since New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged with first-degree murder last summer, NFL franchises have been reevaluating how closely they needed to watch their players away from the field. And what Eagles executives see in Jackson, a six-year veteran, is apparently a potential blight on the brand and a bad influence in the locker room.
As a source within the Eagles organization, who requested anonymity, put it: "They are concerned about having him around the younger players."
By releasing Jackson, the Eagles will save $6.75 million against the 2014 salary cap, per Brian McIntyre. The team has already re-signed Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper this offseason, giving it what should be a formidable receiving corps even without Jackson.
As for Jackson, he is likely too talented to stay on the free-agent market for long. Teams in need of receiving help include the St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs. He should earn a healthy free-agent contract, even if off-field concerns mean he won't earn something similar to the five-year, $48.5 million contract he signed with Philadelphia before the 2012 season.