PHILADELPHIA — DeSean Jackson went from the trading block to the chopping block.
The Philadelphia Eagles released Jackson on Friday after growing concerns about the Pro Bowl wide receiver’s off-field behavior and the effect it would have in the locker room. The team felt the issues surrounding Jackson made him virtually untradable.
It ended Jackson’s five years in Philadelphia after weeks of speculation that he would be traded. It came despite the fact that the 27-year-old Jackson had his best season during coach Chip Kelly’s inaugural campaign.
It also comes during a suspicious offseason that started in January when Jackson’s South Philadelphia home was burglarized in a case that still does not have suspects.
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The release was made less than one hour after an NJ.com report of Jackson’s alleged gang connections, including the Los Angeles Police Department linking two murders since 2010 to gang associates of Jackson. In a statement, Jackson denied that he’s a gang member and called reports “misleading and unfounded.”
No Eagles official was available for comment.
Jackson was coming off a career-best season in Philadelphia, leading the team with 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. He had a $10.25 million contract for the 2014 season and was signed through 2016.
Other teams could be quick to sign Jackson. At least six teams already have reached out to Jackson’s agent, a league source told ESPN.com.
The Seahawks, however, are not expected to be in the mix for Jackson.
While some media reports portrayed Seattle as one of the teams that might be interested, other teams were regarded as more likely landing spots: the Jets, the Chiefs (where Jackson’s former Eagles coach, Andy Reid, is coach) and the Raiders (near where Jackson played in college at California and with the potential to offer more money than most teams).
The Seahawks have shown a reluctance to get involved in bidding wars for players during this free-agency period, while saving up money to extend Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson over the next year. That was one reason they let receiver Golden Tate walk to Detroit for a contract that averages $6.2 million over the next five years.
Seattle also has one high-salaried receiver, Percy Harvin, due for a salary-cap hit of $13.4 million in 2014. Harvin and Jackson have the same agent, Joel Segal.
Reid drafted Jackson in the second round in 2008.
“I have nothing but good things to say about the kid,” Reid said. “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.”
Jackson, in his statement after the release, thanked Reid “for bringing me in.”
If the Chiefs are seriously pursuing Jackson, money will be an issue. Kansas City has about $4.5 million in cap room, which conceivably would be enough to sign Jackson.
But if there is a bidding war for Jackson’s services — which may no longer be the certainty it was a few days ago — the Chiefs could be hard-pressed to sign him because several teams have more cap space. While the Jets have about $28 million in cap space, the Raiders have about $18 million.
Seattle Times reporter Bob Condotta and the Kansas City Star contributed to this report.