This is going to be psycho-babble, so stop here if you are not into that, but please stay and hear me out.
Riley Freeman made the Eagles uncomfortable in ways that Riley Cooper did not. Stay with me.
Like everyone else outside of eastern Pennsylvania, Hog Heaven cannot fathom the reasons that the Philadelphia Eagles attempted to trade and then released DeSean Jackson, or why they didn’t just release him before free agency opened.
If you are into grudge conspiracies, the Eagles waited until teams committed big salary cap dollars during the first week of free agency. That would be mean-minded and I don’t buy it. The effect is the same. The market’s ability to meet DJax’ demands was less this week than it might have been a month ago.
Tom Jackson at Eagles Eye blog explains it this way:
“Well, lets call Wide Receiver/PR a certain position which Kelly feels is very replaceable in his “system”. DJax’ release is a “cap casualty” only in that sense, since the Eagles were still $18 million under the cap at the time. Now take a position like Left Tackle—- Kelly considers that a hard-to-replace position, and he spent a lot of guaranteed money on all-pro tackle Jason Peters’ new contract.”
(Read more here.)
If you are trying to connect the dots, there is still a step or two missing in this narrative. The Eagles were terse in the announcement.
The sports media writes superficially for an audience that rarely reads past the headlines. The gang ties stories never had concrete basis given Jackson’s civic activity around Philly and lack of felonious conviction.
Teams calling LAPD for gang ties is not due diligence. You can Google that on … Google. In any event, police departments are not going to malign anyone who is not an announced suspect, or who have not been arrested or convicted of anything.
I wonder if Jackson is a Boondocks fan. His music associates and his demeanor on occasion mimics the little brother in Aaron McGruder’s in-your-face comic strip. Riley Freeman is the Boondocks foil that McGruder uses to show the idiocy of the urban gangsta’-rapper life style. But young, urban men relate to Riley. Acting like him is a thing, even if they have no real intent to do anything gangsta’.
By itself, that should not count for much. Jackson wouldn’t be the only NFL player who might have that mindset. DJax and his camp forcefully deny gang involvement. In the buttoned-down, post-Aaron Hernandez NFL, one cannot even be close to gang members. It seems a small sacrifice for the income.
On top of other attitude issues and Jackson’s incompatibility with the coaching staff, he was too much of a headache for Chip Kelly. With a deep receiver talent pool in the 2014 Draft class, Kelly must have an eye on Jackson’s replacement and at the rookie pay scale, too.
(Career lesson for the rest of you: It’s not the new boss’s job to adapt to you.)
The Eagles have played in 20 playoff games since 2000. They can afford the luxury of strict standards. The Redskins have played in four playoff games since 2000 and they have a middling group of wide receivers after Pierre Garcon. They were desperate for the move.
RGIII, Garcon, Hall are Redskins on the hook
Whatever the issues in Philadelphia, it’s Washington’s problem now. The Redskins know more about the matter than we do, but less than the Eagles know. What they know could still burn us. The Eagles won the Donovan McNabb “gotcha game.”
The usual suspects, including the owner, are on the hook for the decision. But so are the players most visible in the effort to recruit him. Robert Griffin III, Pierre Garcon and DeAngelo Hall put their own reputation on the line by advocating for Jackson. If attitude issues come up, they are the first responders to squash it.
Of those three, pressure most falls on Griffin. Making the playoffs this year justifies Mike Shanahan’s (or Dan Snyder’s) trade for him. Jackson, Garcon and Andre Roberts on the field for most offensive plays, as they should be, forces defenses into seven and six-man fronts that should really open up play-action.
This should be RGIII’s most fun season as a pro. It better be.
I like the potential, but Hog Heaven has for years been as desperate as the Redskins for a wide receiver duo that could deliver 16-plus touchdown catches and better than 1,800 receiving yards.
Is that too much to ask?