The Philadelphia Eagles released DeSean Jackson on Friday after growing concerns about the Pro Bowl wide receiver’s off-field behavior and the effect it would have in the locker room. The team felt the issues surrounding Jackson made him virtually untradable.
It ended Jackson’s five years in Philadelphia after weeks of speculation that he would be traded despite the fact that the Jackson, 27, had his best season under new coach Chip Kelly. It comes during a suspicious offseason that started in January when Jackson’s South Philadelphia home was burglarized in a case that still does not have suspects.
The move was made less than one hour after an NJ.com report of Jackson’s alleged gang connections, including Los Angeles Police Department linking two murders since 2010 to gang associates of Jackson. In a statement, Jackson denied that he’s a gang member and called reports “misleading and unfounded.”
The Eagles were not made aware of the report until this week, and did not release Jackson entirely because of the report. Rather, it was because of the mounting issues that the team had with their star player, which is why the team had been trying to trade Jackson this offseason.
The new information, along with what they already knew of Jackson, made the Eagles fear what else they don’t know, which was the impetus for making the move on Friday.
No Eagles official was available for comment — from owner Jeffrey Lurie to General Manager Howie Roseman to Kelly. Instead, they let the story of jettisoning one of their marquee players fester without explanation.
Raiders add Jones-Drew
Free-agent running back Maurice Jones-Drew is coming back home to Oakland after signing a three-year contract with the Raiders. Jones-Drew returns to his native Bay Area after spending his first eight seasons with Jacksonville and starring in college at UCLA.
Jones-Drew joins quarterback Matt Schaub, defensive linemen Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley and receiver James Jones as successful veterans brought in by General Manager Reggie McKenzie this offseason who are looking for a late-career spark in Oakland.
The Raiders also signed two defensive linemen, bringing back Pat Sims on a one-year deal and signing former Green Bay Packer C.J. Wilson.
Jones-Drew had 8,071 yards rushing and 68 touchdowns for Jacksonville but was hampered by injuries the past two seasons. That led the Jaguars to let him test the market in free agency after his five-year, $31 million contract expired.
Steelers pick up Blount
The Pittsburgh Steelers and free-agent running back LeGarrette Blount, 27, agreed on a two-year contract.
Blount ran for 772 yards and a career-high seven touchdowns in 2013 for the New England Patriots. He added 166 yards rushing and set a team playoff record with four touchdowns in a playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts.
The Denver Broncos signed backup offensive tackle Winston Justice to a one-year deal. Justice was brought in early last season after All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady was placed on injured reserve with a foot injury. … The San Francisco 49ers re-signed cornerback Perrish Cox to a one-year contract. In a whirlwind two months last season, the three-year veteran went from San Francisco, to playing for Seattle and back to the 49ers — then playing in all but one defensive snap in a 23-20 wild-card playoff win at Green Bay.
Police say San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver was arrested on suspicion of felony hit and run and reckless driving after he drove a car into a bicyclist and fled. A San Jose police spokesman said Culliver was driving a white Mustang when he hit the cyclist Friday morning near downtown San Jose. The bicyclist wasn’t seriously hurt.