Chip Kelly, Jeff Lurie and Howie Roseman speak about the reasons the Eagles cut DeSean Jackson. Can we now move on?

By Lewis Gould

So, what passes for the press in Philly has hammered the Eagles for the last month for remaining mum about their reasons for cutting wideout/bad boy/ narcissist/money-grubbing DeSean Jackson.

And, since sunlight is the best disinfectant — at least that’s what Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis said, but he died in 1941 and was probably a Redskins fan anyway — the Birds chose a beautiful sunny spring day to finally own up.

Speaking at their 18th annual Playground Build at Prince Hall Elementary School in North Philly, team brass discussed the move as coach Chip Kelly, general manager Howie Roseman and owner Jeffrey Lurie all spoke to a number of area reporters.

Kelly said the Eagles’ decision to release wide receiver DeSean Jackson was purely a football decision and the timing of the release had nothing to do with an story that detailed the player’s involvement with members of gangs.

Kelly was speaking publicly for the first time since Jackson’s release. He added that the team tried to trade Jackson, but had no offers. The coach also said he never had any issues with Jackson and never got into a shouting match with him as reported by some media outlets.

“It was strictly a football decision,” Kelly said of letting go of his leading receiver, who caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards in his only season in Kelly’s offense. “We were aware of (the report a few days prior, but that had nothing to with it.

“I never had an issue with DeSean. He never yelled at me during practice. I never yelled at him. I don’t know where that came from. But it never happened.”

The Eagles released Jackson on March 28, less than an hour after a story hinting Jackson had gang associations was posted. So there is a question of timing.

“The timing is, it was exactly when we had gotten back from the owners’ meeting,” Kelly said. “That was the timing. We had tried to trade him, but we had no offers. So there was no decision to make there. We released him. It was a football decision.”

Kelly said he released Jackson in March so he would have a chance to sign somewhere else.

“Just being fair to the player,” Kelly said. “We could have waited, but that’s not the right thing to do. Where would that leave him?”

Jackson landed in Washington with the Redskins, an NFC East rival the Eagles will play twice a season.

“When you release him, he’s free to sign with any of the other 31 teams,” Kelly said. “So we were aware he could end up in our division. Again, we made a football decision based on where we are headed as a football team.”

Asked if he was surprised he had no offers for a receiver with Jackson’s ability, especially after the season he just had, Kelly said money was a factor in that regard. His contract with the Eagles called for him to make $10.7 million this year.

“He has a very expensive contract. One of the best cornerbacks in the league was let go this offseason, a (heck) of a football player. Sometimes economics plays a part in these things,” Kelly said in reference to Tampa Bay releasing Darrelle Revis.

So was that the case with Jackson? Was his $10.7 million contract too much for the Eagles, who had just re-signed wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper to new contracts?

“No,” Kelly said. “It was a football decision.”

Now the decision for the Eagles is to make up for the production lost with Jackson’s release. Kelly didn’t seem too concerned. He does have Maclin, who missed all of last season, coming back from a torn ACL. Cooper, who played well the second half of the season, needs to do it for an entire season. Arrelious Benn, acquired in a trade from Tampa Bay, also spent the year on injured reserve with a torn ACL.

And, of course there is next week’s draft, which is rich in wide receivers.

“We’ll work on that,” Kelly said. “That’s what this whole deal is. We’ll move forward. We know the direction we’re going in as an offense.”


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