KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Shortly after DeSean Jackson was released by the Eagles on Friday, the star wide receiver issued a statement tackling several subjects, including questions about his off-field behavior.
But Jackson also took the time to thank Chiefs coach Andy Reid for drafting him, which immediately got Chiefs fans buzzing.
“First I would like to thank the Eagles organization, the Eagles fans and the city of Philadelphia for my time in Philly,” Jackson said in a statement. “I would also like to thank coach Andy (Reid) for bringing me in.”
The buzz only grew when reports surfaced about a possible reunion between Jackson and Reid, which a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to The Star. According to the source, the Chiefs are among a number of teams pursuing Jackson.
Shortly before he was released, a published report detailed Jackson’s behavior off the field. Citing anonymous sources, NJ.com reported the Eagles were concerned about Jackson’s “bad attitude, an inconsistent work ethic, missed meetings and a lack of chemistry with head coach Chip Kelly.”
The report also stated the Eagles were concerned with “Jackson’s continued association with reputed Los Angeles street gang members who have been connected to two homicides since 2010.”
Jackson refuted any gang affiliation.
“I would like to address the misleading and unfounded reports that my release has anything to do with any affiliation that has been speculated surrounding the company I keep off of the field,” Jackson said in a statement. “I would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang. … I look forward to working hard for my new team.”
It’s rare for a team to cut a talented player such as Jackson in the prime of his career. Jackson, 27, is coming off a season in which he caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Chiefs could use a receiver with Jackson’s talents. No one on their roster can stretch the field like Jackson, a 5-foot-11, 178-pound speedster, which could help take Reid’s offense to another level. Jackson has other ties to the team; his older brother, Byron, is a former San Jose State receiver who spent 1992 on the Chiefs’ practice squad.
If the Chiefs are seriously pursuing Jackson, money will be an issue. As it stands, the Chiefs have about $4.5 million in cap room, which would conceivably 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.
There’s also the issue of Jackson’s alleged off-field issues, though the Chiefs are uniquely well-positioned to know just how true they are. Reid drafted Jackson in 2008 and handed him a multi-year extension in 2012, while the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator, Doug Pedersen, and receivers coach, David Culley, also served on Reid’s staff in Philadelphia and have experience working with Jackson.
Reid was complimentary of Jackson this week at the NFL’s annual meetings.
“I don’t know what’s real and what’s not real,” Reid said of Jackson’s situation, in general, this week. “I haven’t looked into it either way. I’m happy that he had a great year. I’m happy that Chip had a great year with him, and that’s where it stops for me.”