Decision to cut Jackson wasn’t a surprise, but the timing was
With the Eagles unable to find a trade partner for receiver DeSean Jackson, it was no surprise that Philly cut him loose. But it was a surprise that they did it today.
There was no deadline or other pressure point forcing the team’s hand. The issue would have come to a head at the launch of the team’s offseason workout program, if Jackson had opted to show up for it.
But that was still several weeks away. There was no external reason to cut Jackson now.
Some would say there was no reason to delay, because the decision had been made to move on and an effort had been made to trade him. (Indeed, Coach Chip Kelly doesn’t seem to be the kind of guy who likes to wait around once he has determined a course of action.) But anything could have happened between today and the launch of the offseason program.
What if the No. 1 wideout for a contending team tears an Achilles tendon while playing basketball this weekend? Suddenly, the Eagles could have gotten value for Jackson.
There’s a theory/hypothesis/whatever that the Eagles moved quickly after publication of the NJ.com story making vague, ambiguous connections between Jackson and gang activity. But the NJ.com report contained nothing the Eagles didn’t already know.
The far more likely explanation is that the Eagles decided that they’d cut Jackson this week if they couldn’t trade him at the league meetings, and that the NJ.com article provided cover (coincidental or otherwise) with the fan base.
Cover may not matter. The Eagles will face heavy scrutiny and criticism for their decision, if Jackson’s new team has a better season in 2014 than his old team. Regardless of how it all turns out, it’ll be another intriguing wrinkle for the 2014 season.