By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and general manager Howie Roseman maintained the same “safe speak” mode as their head coach, Chip Kelly, on Monday in explaining why the Eagles cut Pro Bowl receiver DeSean Jackson, after a career-best season.
Both Lurie and Roseman said the reason was strictly based as a “football decision.”
“Chip and his people were incredibly clear that for us to get better we need to take a step back and reconfigure the wide receiver position,” Lurie said. “And for Chip on offense, it just wasn’t a good fit. It just was not a good fit with what he asks wide receivers to do.”
The 27-year-old Jackson was coming off the best season of his career with 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns.
“Chip’s not just going to base things on statistics, but how are you going to perform, how are you going to perform in the playoffs,” Lurie said.
In six playoff games, Jackson has caught 19 passes for 321 yards, averaging 16.89 yards a reception and 3.1 catches per game. In the Eagles’ 26-24 playoff loss to New Orleans last season, Jackson caught three passes for 53 yards, averaging 17.67 yards a reception. But that came after Saints’ corner Keenan Lewis left the game in the third quarter with an injury. It also should be noted, Jackson didn’t have a pass thrown to him, either, in the first half of the Saints’ playoff game.
“It became clear at the end of the year [Kelly] wanted to certainly go at the wide receiver position differently,” Lurie said. “Once that decision was made it was a matter of whether we were going to be able to make any kind of trade. And when it was obvious there were going to be no trade offers, the fair thing to the player was to release him. And in today’s NFL, it’s not surprising that would happen with double-digit contracts. You don’t see players getting traded these days, you see them getting released.”
Both Lurie and Roseman maintained that Jackson’s $10.25-million base salary had nothing to do with his release. The Redskins did sign Jackson to a three-year, $24 million deal.
“We’ve never been afraid of teams in our division,” Lurie said. “We got to do what’s best for us. It remains to be seen exactly what happens in the future. We’ll check back in three years and see where we’re at. It was really a football decision. Chip and his people were incredibly clear that for us to get better we need to take a step back and reconfigure the wide receiver position. I think common to a lot of really smart coaches, he knows exactly what he wants at every position.”
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.