Friday afternoon, the Philadelphia Eagles announced they had released wide receiver DeSean Jackson. The announcement came 45 minutes after NJ.com released an article detailing allegations of Jackson's various gang connections. Naturally, this got everyone chattering about what it means for Jackson's future. ESPN provided a variety of football experts that suddenly were gang and personality experts. That was fun.
Jackson released a statement shortly after, denying being in a gang now or in the past. People were going to pick and choose what they wanted to believe, and the whole thing has resulted in a slew of folks around the Internet who are gang experts.
Jackson has reportedly been on the trading block for some time this offseason, and in reality, a lot of this is a PR battle between the organization and the player. Philly.com released an article today that was meant to counter the NJ.com article. It painted this decision as Chip Kelly wanting to get rid of Jackson all along, and the gang stuff being cover for it. In reality, we're dealing with the two sides of this issue throwing out what they can to cover themselves. I don't think either article presents the whole truth.
My guess is that as is often the case, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. It could be the gang stuff, it could be Chip Kelly just not liking him, it could be the questions about missing meetings and the like. It could be a lot of things. But if you want to see what is likely the extreme end of both positions, I recommend reading both the NJ.com and Philly.com articles.
Now that Jackson is on the market, the rumors are swirling about his potential landing spot. There are plenty of 49ers fans hoping he ends up in San Francisco. He brings a game-breaking talent that could take the offense to a whole new level. There have been no rumors connecting the 49ers, although a few national folks have mentioned the 49ers as a team that makes sense. The idea is that the 49ers locker room would keep Jackson focused. That's always an easy line, but it's also overblown at times in my mind.
For now, the leading candidates from a rumor perspective seem to be the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs. There have been reports of as many as nine teams, if not more, but the Raiders and Chiefs come up the most. There's a report that Jackson's people let the Raiders know he would be interested in a potential Bay Area reunion. Our friends at Arrowhead Pride are tracking all the rumors. There are bunch, and they are changing by the hour. Initially there were reports the Jets were interested, but now there are reports they have not reached out. Washington could be coming on strong as well, but again, it's just rumors for now.
Pro Football Talk declared that the 49ers should be considered a team that considered in the mix because PFT continues to believe the 49ers were "definitely" interested in Jackson when he was on the trade block. Trent Baalke has denied this, but naturally PFT and others are not inclined to believe him. It seems like at this point, if the 49ers deny anything, PFT is going to assume the exact opposite.
Maybe the 49ers are interested in Jackson, maybe they're not. The only on the record information we've got was Trent Baalke denying the team had any contact with the Eagles leading up to the owners' meetings. Some media will choose to believe he is lying, but those are also people who don't have any on the record information to support their theories, so they carry less weight in my mind.