PHILADELPHIA — Over the past several weeks, the Philadelphia Eagles reportedly have begun to shop wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
On its face, the decision to trade one of the NFL’s most talented players would seem curious: At 27, Jackson is coming off one of the best seasons of his career — 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. Plus, he’s a playmaker who should thrive for seasons to come in head coach Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense.
Yet the Eagles’ apparent interest in jettisoning Jackson likely has little to do with his performance on the field or a big-money contract that could squeeze the team’s salary cap. Rather, sources close to Jackson and within the Eagles’ organization say, it’s Jackson’s off-field behavior that concerns the front office. A bad attitude, an inconsistent work ethic, missed meetings and a lack of chemistry with head coach Chip Kelly are the reasons, sources told NJ.com. And when the Eagles looked more deeply into why Jackson was missing meetings, they found that his friends were becoming a more powerful — and negative — influence in his life.
Now the Eagles have even more serious concerns — Jackson’s continued association with reputed Los Angeles street gang members who have been connected to two homicides since 2010.
Ever since New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged with first-degree murder last summer, NFL franchises have been reevaluating how closely they needed to watch their players away from the field. And what Eagles executives see in Jackson, a six-year veteran, is apparently a potential blight on the brand and a bad influence in the locker room.
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