First, there were concerns about DeSean Jackson’s attitude within the the Philadelphia Eagles’ locker room. Then, there was the fact that Jackson sought a new contract with three years remaining on his current deal. The third and final straw: Jackson’s gang ties.
Three strikes, and he’s out.
The Newark Star-Ledger reported the Eagles have released Jackson after connections to a Los Angeles street gang surfaced. The decision seems to be strictly related to off-the-field issues, as the team remains concerned with Jackson’s association with the street gang, which has been linked to two homicides since 2010. The 27-year-old wide receiver is coming off a career season under coach Chip Kelly.
“Yet the Eagles’ apparent interest in jettisoning Jackson likely has little to do with his performance on the field or a big-money contract that could squeeze the team’s salary cap,” according to NJ.com. “Rather, sources close to Jackson and within the Eagles’ organization say, it’s Jackson’s off-field behavior that concerns the front office. A bad attitude, an inconsistent work ethic, missed meetings and a lack of chemistry with head coach Chip Kelly are the reason.”
Whether these off-the-field revelations will have an impact on teams’ remains to be seen. The New York Jets, New England Patriots, Carolina Panthers, Oakland Raiders, and San Francisco 49ers have all been connected to Jackson over the past week, whether it be through trades or if he hit the free-agent market.
If and when Jackson is brought into an NFL club, the team will likely need a steady front office and experienced general manager, as well as a head coach capable of managing players’ off-the-field issues. Bill Belichick and the Pats immediately surfaces to the top of the potential landing spots in terms of that list, but the team may not have an interest after dealing with Aaron Hernandez last year.
The Jets are best positioned financially to sign Jackson, but a lot is contingent on second-year general manager John Idzik. The Panthers are in the most need of a dynamic wide receiver after losing Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, and Ted Ginn Jr. in free agency, but the team is a bit cash-strapped, having only about $5 million in cap space for the 2014 season.
There is also the possibility Jackson’s off-the-field concerns outweigh what he’s capable of doing on the field. Teams may be reluctant to add Jackson to the puzzle now that his gang ties have been made public. There is also the contract demands and the reported attitude he brings to the locker room, which could dissuade teams with already questionable chemistry and leadership.