Perhaps getting an early start on an upcoming offseason roster purge, the Philadelphia Eagles released defensive end Jason Babin on Tuesday, according to the Eagles Insider Twitter feed:
#Eagles release DE Jason Babin and place WR DeSean Jackson on Injured Reserve— Eagles Insider (@EaglesInsider) November 27, 2012
For many, this release will come as a massive shock. While Babin is having a disappointing season (along with the rest of Philadelphia's roster), he has been an integral part of the Eagles defense since coming back to the team before last season.
In 2011, Babin recorded a career-high 18 sacks and earned his first All-Pro selection. Babin and the rest of the Eagles' defensive line was among the NFL's best and was supposed to be a strength this season.
However, Babin has just 5.5 sacks coming into Week 13, as he's struggled to replicate his dominance in 2012.
As he struggled, Babin began seeing fewer snaps and head coach Andy Reid began rotating young players into the defensive line. According to Les Bowen of Eagletarian.com, Reid actually cited an emphasis on youth as the reason for Babin's release:
Andy Reid: by releasing (Babin) today, this gives us an opportunity to give more playing time to some of the younger guys in the DL rotation— Les Bowen (@LesBowen) November 27, 2012
While, in theory, pushing youth makes sense for a 3-8 team, you have to question the timing. Reid could have just as easily sent Babin to the bench and shuffled his rotation without making a statement like a midweek release.
More than likely, there's more to this story than meets the eye. Either way, Babin's departure marks yet another sideshow in the circus-like atmosphere that has marred the 2012 Eagles season.
With teams across the NFL looking for defensive line help, don't look for Babin to be out of work for long, either.