PHILADELPHIA -- Unable to find a taker on the trade market, the Philadelphia Eagles released dynamic wide receiver DeSean Jackson on Friday.

Jackson, 27, was coming off a career-best season in Philadelphia, leading the team with 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. He had a $10.25 million contract for the 2014 season and was signed through 2016.

"After careful consideration over this offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles have decided to part ways with DeSean Jackson," the Eagles said in a statement.

Jackson, a former Cal star, thanked the Eagles organization and fans in his own statement Friday and also denied "unfounded reports" that he was released for off-field issues.

"I would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang," Jackson said in a statement. "I am not a gang member and to speculate and assume that I am involved in such activity off the field is reckless and irresponsible. I work very hard on and off the field and I am a good person with good values.

"I am proud of the accomplishments that I have made both on and off the field. I have worked tirelessly to give back to my community and have a positive impact on those in need. It is unfortunate that I now have to defend myself and my intentions. These reports are irresponsible and just not true."


Advertisement

A story on NJ.com (New Jersey) said the Eagles' decision "likely had little to do with his performance on the field or a big-money contract that was slightly squeezing the team's salary cap."

The story said sources close to Jackson and in the Eagles organization blamed his off-field behavior and bad attitude among other concerns. It also said Jackson has continued to associate with L.A. gang members who have been connected to two murders since 2010.

Derrick Ward, a running back who played in the NFL for eight seasons (2004-2011) with the New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Houston Texans, went on Twitter and ripped ESPN's Ron Jaworski and Tedy Bruschi for questioning Jackson's character.

"@espn stop trying to discuss a conversation you know nothing about. U guys are assuming every single thing your talking about right now. Im sorry but has @DeseanJackson10 ever been arrested? Suspended? DUI? Drugs? No...," Ward tweeted.

"Bottom line I know @DeseanJackson10 very very very well. If the Eagles where so concerned about his "Gang Ties" they wouldnt had drafted him 6 years ago The @Eagles gonna cut @DeseanJackson10 because they "Think" he might know gang members but they'll keep and resign a well known Racist?"

Ward was referring to Eagles receiver Riley Cooper, who was caught on video last year using a racial slur.

Jackson has 356 career receptions for 6,117 yards and 32 touchdowns in six NFL seasons. He's a dangerous returner who went to the Pro Bowl in 2009 after taking two punts the distance.

The Eagles had been put out feelers that Jackson was available. Coach Chip Kelly declined to comment on Jackson's return at this week's NFL owner's meetings in Orlando, Fla.

Speaking at the NFL meetings, Jets owner Woody Johnson expressed interest in Jackson, saying: "We're looking at a number of players, including DeSean."

Jackson upset the Eagles when he lobbied for a new contact shortly after they were eliminated in the playoffs. His departure leaves the Eagles with Cooper and Jeremy Maclin as the starting wide receivers.

"We just made an extremely unpopular decision, but I couldn't be more excited and happy with where this organization is going!! (hash)FlyEaglesFly," offensive lineman Jason Kelce tweeted.