Pro Bowl receiver DeSean Jackson has been released by the Eagles. The team had reportedly been shopping him for the past several weeks but got no legitimate bites, due in part to Jackson's current contract and partly because of Jackson's off-field redflags dating back several years. The announcement of his release followed the publication of a NJ.com story about Jackson's gang affiliations by about 15 minutes.
Jackson released a statement following the announcement (and story of his gang-ties) thanking "the Eagles organization, the Eagles fans and the city of Philadelphia for my time in Philly," but then disputed "misleading and unfounded reports that my release has anything to do with any affiliation that has been speculated surrounding the company I keep off of the field."
"I would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang," he wrote. "I am not a gang member and to speculate and assume that I am involved in such activity off the field is reckless and irresponsible. I work very hard on and off the field and I am a good person with good values. I am proud of the accomplishments that I have made both on and off the field. I have worked tirelessly to give back to my community and have a positive impact on those in need. It is unfortunate that I now have to defend myself and my intentions. These reports are irresponsible and just not true. I look forward to working hard for my new team."
In addition to concerns about Jackson's off-field associations, Philadelphia was looking at cap hits on his current deal at $12.75M in 2014, $12M in 2015, and $10.5M in 2016. His cap number would be $10.75M in 2014 to any team that had wanted to trade for him, and that price proved to be too prohibitive, even for a receiver that caught a career high 82 passes for 1,332 yard and nine touchdowns last year.
Regardless, it was reported by Jason La Canfora that both the Seahawks and Niners had previously shown interest in Jackson when he was on the trade block and called to inquire about him, and while Mike Florio disputed that report, it's still something to consider now that the mercurial receiver has been released. La Canfora maintains now that it's his gut Seattle will be a major player in the pursuit of the now free agent.
Though Jackson publicly patched things up with Chip Kelly last week, outside of sticking with the Eagles, he likely preferred to hit the open market over getting traded so he can negotiate a new, long-term deal (he was reportedly not happy with his former deal with the Eagles). However, as Jason from OverTheCap.com wrote last week,
The issue for Jackson moving forward is that the receiver market took a major step back in 2014. Eric Decker, the most highly regarded receiver available, received just $7.5 million a year with $15 million guaranteed. Decker came off a 1200 yard season in Denver but faced knocks about not being a true number 1 receiver and that part of his production was based on the QB and system in Denver rather than his ability. I would think Jackson would face those same criticisms.
The gang affiliation article from this morning likely does not help, because the Aaron Hernandez situation from last season is still close in everyone's memory.
That said, Pete knows Jackson from his days attempting to recruit him to USC, so there's a personal connection there. Jackson is from Long Beach and was a huge area star on his way to being named a high school All-American. His (in)famous somersault into the endzone where he dropped the ball before crossing the goal line, was during the Army All-American Bowl that year, but it was a game in which he was named the MVP after catching seven passes for 141 yards. Jackson recently posted this photo from his high school days of Pete Carroll in his living room, recruiting him, to his instagram page:
Jackson ended up choosing Cal over his second choice, USC.
Despite the recent allegations of gang affiliation and the off-field red flags -- which are not new at all - it will be interesting to see if the Seahawks will pursue Jackson. Pete Carroll established A Better LA -- which is meant to curb gang violence in Los Angeles and improve the quality of life in that area -- and this is where associates of Jackson's have been connect to two murders since 2010.
Carroll still has strong ties to that community through A Better LA, is still highly involved in his charity, and has set up a satellite program here in Seattle. Jackson's alleged association with gang members in LA will be a factor that Carroll will have to navigate carefully, but he does have a unique background - as far as NFL coaches go - working with gangs in that area.
Regardless. In terms of football, the Seahawks like to get involved in everything, and Jackson is a 27-year old Pro Bowl receiver and punt returner coming off his best season as a pro, and he's on the market in a year where there's a potential discount at the position.
His style would certainly fit with the Seahawks' pass game philosophy, which is predicated on getting explosive plays.
DeSean Jackson has 21 TD receptions of 30+ yards since 2008, tied with Mike Wallace for the most over this span— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 28, 2014
We shall see.