Jackson wrote his own ticket out of Philly

The Eagles correctly concluded he wasn't a fit — even on the field.

PHILADELPHIA

— What the Philadelphia Eagles already knew about DeSean Jackson was bad enough for them to conclude they didn't want to learn anything more from the stories that are almost certain to emerge in the coming days and weeks.

So there was nothing in particular that led them to release their ultra-talented wide receiver on Friday. Rather, it was an accumulation of incidents and a pattern of misbehavior that Jackson had established and was allowed to maintain for five seasons under the more-tolerant Andy Reid than under Chip Kelly, who never viewed Jackson as a must-have, Lawrence Taylor-type force worthy of discretionary oversights and special rules.

Whether this turns out to be a fatal flaw of Kelly's or a necessary move to keep his team pointed toward a championship is a question that cannot be answered at this time.

But to his credit, instead of acting like a hot-shot tyrant with zero tolerance and making an instant example of Jackson by getting rid of him last year, Kelly subtly tried to nudge him over to his side.

He demoted Jackson without public comment or fanfare almost immediately after training camp began. Not until Jackson came to him and discovered that the reason for it was is failure to master all the offensive skill positions, a requirement Kelly made clear to his backs and receivers from the start, did he make the necessary adjustment.

Jackson, who originally thought he was valuable enough and dynamic enough for that rule not to apply to him, complied and went on to have his best season as a pro — producing career highs in catches (82), receiving yards (1,332) and touchdown receptions (nine) on his way to his third Pro Bowl since being drafted in 2008.

Problem was, Jackson believed at the time (and perhaps still does) that the problem Kelly had with him was fixed with that one issue being eliminated.

It wasn't. The message Kelly was trying to send never fully penetrated.

And that message was this: the full scope of Jackson's shortcomings as a player who sometimes placed himself above the team and a citizen who lived a lifestyle that at best brought embarrassment upon the organization also would require some adjustments.

Maybe Kelly wasn't explicit enough. Maybe Jackson just never felt like it would come to this.

Whatever the case, Jackson now is an ex-Eagle who was due to make $10.25 million in base salary this year, $9.75 million next year and $8.25 million in 2016. None of that was guaranteed.

That Jackson was delusional enough on locker cleanout day in January to think he could convince the team to push some of that money forward as a reward for a job well done indicated just how out of touch he was with reality.

And then, according to sources, he blew off his exit interview with Kelly, who decided at that point that he had had enough.

Truth is, the team had long since reached its breaking point with Jackson by the time a report by NJ.com linking him to Crips gang members in Los Angeles was posted on Friday. But once it was, it could delay the inevitable no longer.

Actually, the team informed Jackson of his release before the story broke. It just didn't make it public until around 30 minutes after.

Judging by his teammates' reactions after this whole thing started going down with reports of Jackson on the trading block and having no chance to return, this was something that had to happen.

Keep in mind that NFL players are, by nature, among the most tolerant and forgiving humans on earth. In the Eagles' case, they welcomed Michael Vick back into the NFL unconditionally four years after dozens lobbied publicly as well as privately for the team to keep petulant star Terrell Owens.

With Jackson, there was remarkably little support near the end and absolutely no shock or outrage after he was released.

Instead, center Jason Kelce wrote on Twitter that he "couldn't be more excited and happy with where this organization is going."

That said, the team will be extremely challenged to recreate the offensive dynamic it enjoyed and maybe even came to take for granted with Jackson, a fabulous performer who possesses tremendous instincts and the kind of talent to win his share of 50-50 balls despite his relatively tiny 5-10, 175-pound frame.

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2013 YEAR IN REVIEW
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