In any situation, it’s difficult to say releasing a Pro Bowl player would make any team better for next season. However, the Philadelphia Eagles are hoping this is the case after releasing All-Pro receiver DeSean Jackson this past Friday. In a move that stunned the NFL, the Pro Bowler’s six-year career in Philadelphia is over. The Eagles are looking to slowly but surely move on and replace the controversial yet productive wide receiver.
Any other season this might have been the worst move the Eagles could have made. However, for what Philadelphia is trying to accomplish, it was the right and only move.
Jackson has been a headache for both coaches and the league ever since he was drafted. The loud-mouth, flashy receiver was more concerned about showing off than getting the win on Sundays. His “me-first” attitude was not not the winning formula or culture that head coach Chip Kelly was trying to set in Philadelphia. However, despite his antics off the field, he was one of the best on it. He had a career year last year, setting career-bests in receiving yards and touchdowns in 2013. He was one of the main weapons on an extremely dangerous offense.
Jackson was sent out of Philadelphia as fast as he blazed down the field this past weekend. So with a player of Jackson’s caliber, how could this be, in any way, a good move for Philadelphia going forward? Well, Jackson’s ego and antics were always a distraction, and this would have caused problems down the road. He was seen on numerous occasions jawing at coaches or mouthing off to opposing players. This is not the attitude or demeanor Kelly wants on his team. These actions will not help win football games, and Kelly knows this. Jackson had to be the odd man out or we may have another whole “T.O.” situation, which still gives people in Philadelphia nightmares.
There were plenty of times Jackson put himself before the team. He never seemed to be getting paid enough money and was always arguing for a new contract. Jackson had just signed an extension two seasons ago and was still arguing for a new contract. He wasn’t underpaid in comparison to the rest of the receivers in the league, as he was making around $10 million per year. Jackson caring more about his wallet more than what is in Philadelphia’s trophy case was a cause for concern. In addition, recently there have been reports about Jackson’s alleged gang affiliation, which is simply a risk the Eagles can’t take no matter how productive the player is.
So where does this leave Philadelphia in their search for a new wide receiver? If the season started today, Philadelphia’s top two options would be Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper, both proven wideouts who have had good careers in Philadelphia. However, Cooper has had just one good season and Maclin is coming off an ACL injury. There are question marks for this team going forward in their receiving depth chart. Despite this, the Eagles shouldn’t panic about finding someone to replace Jackson. The draft has one of the deepest receiver classes in recent years, and the Eagles can find value even in the later rounds. There are plenty of guys who could quickly made an impact for Philadelphia early.
Even if it’s tough for Philadelphia to see Jackson go, it was ultimately the right decision for the Eagles.