The Philadelphia Eagles released Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson Friday afternoon leaving the talented player free to sign a contract with any other team. Considering the Kansas City Chiefs are coached by Andy Reid, the man who drafted and successfully coached Jackson in Philly, some KC fans might be fantasizing about seeing Jackson running routes in KC Red and Gold next season.
Unfortunately for the dreamers in Chiefs Nation, it would be a minor miracle if Jackson is wearing a Chiefs jersey next year. And it has less to do with his alleged gang ties and poor choice of friends than it does money. As it stands right now, the Chiefs have about $4.5 million in salary cap room, which is just not enough to sign someone of Jackson’s talent.
It’s being reported that the Eagles had been trying to trade Jackson for at least a couple of months, but found no takers. The Philly press says that Jackson and first-year Eagles coach Chip Kelly clashed at times and Jackson was often late for meetings. Then, Friday morning NJ.com published an article about Jackson’s relationship to reputed Los Angeles gang members who are suspected of being connected to two homicides since 2010.
It should be said that the LAPD detectives that investigated the murders say that Jackson had absolutely nothing to do with them, wasn’t there, and had no evidence that he knew about the murders other than being acquainted with one of the suspects.
That was apparently enough for the Eagles and Kelly to sever ties with the receiver and he was released later Friday morning. For his part, Jackson has repeatedly denied being a gang member and it should be pointed out that his only run-in with the law during his NFL career came when he was pulled over by a traffic cop for having windows that were tinted too dark. At the time, the officer reported smelling marijuana in the car.
On the field, Jackson is a brash trash-talker who occasionally takes it a bit too far, but he is one of the most talented receivers in the game and is one of those playmakers that actually keeps defensive coordinators up at night. He also is among the league leaders with receptions of 40 yards or more over the past three seasons. Would he fit in with the Chiefs? Duh!
It’s ironic that while Jackson (with his alleged gang ties) got cut after a career year in the NFL (82 catches, 1,332 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 16.2 yds per catch average), the Eagles threw their support to fellow receiver Riley Cooper who was filmed spewing some of the most vitriolic and racist venom last year. Cooper, a white player, recently was rewarded with a five-year $25 million contract from Philadelphia even though he can’t hold a candle to Jackson on the field.
KC Chiefs coach Reid has long been one of Jackson’s biggest supporters and when he was asked about him earlier this week by a reporter, Reid said, "I have nothing but good things to say about the kid. I did draft him. I had a great relationship with him, when his father passed away, that was a hard thing for him to go through at a young age. They were best friends. I've experienced life things with him, so I would tell you he was great for me when I was there.”
Another positive for KC is that David Culley is the Chiefs Assistant Head Coach/Receivers coach and knows Jackson as well as anyone in the league from his time as the receivers coach in Philly.
Soon after Jackson was released, his agent tweeted out that six teams had contacted him within the first half-hour of the story hitting the airwaves. If the Chiefs want to make a serious step forward in 2014, they should be exploring every option to free up cap space to bring Jackson to Arrowhead.
Does Jackson need to grow up and be more mature? Yes. Does he need to cut ties to anyone with gang affiliations no matter how long they have been friends? Undoubtedly. Is he feeling the repercussions of the black eye former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez gave the NFL with his possible ACTIVE involvement in a gang-related murder in June 2013? Without doubt.
All I know is that if Jackson is wearing a red #10 jersey next fall, many Chiefs fans will give him the benefit of the doubt. And after he catches his first 60-yard TD pass from Alex Smith, even more fans will forgive him. That is the NFL.
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