There is absolutely nothing in the world that can get an NFL fanbase fired up in the offseason like having a high-profile free agent linked to your team. This weekend, Kansas City Chiefs Kingdom is no different.
Despite shopping him and finding interest, Eagles have made decision to cut WR DeSean Jackson. Outright. Jackson is now a free agent.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 28, 2014
As Adam Schefter said, the Philadelphia Eagles had offers on the table for Jackson and still decided to cut him outright. This is curious because, according to Eagles Cap, the Eagles have now incurred a "dead money" penalty of $10 million over the next three years, including $6 million for the 2014 season by cutting Jackson.
As teams continue to vie for the attention of the former Eagles No. 1 wide receiver, we now know that the Kansas City Chiefs are no longer in the race.
The biggest question in regards to that statement is: Why? One of the biggest sound bytes—or quotes if you're reading instead of listening—that most pundits and talking heads have used during the last few days linking Jackson to the Chiefs was from head coach Andy Reid.
“I have nothing but good things to say about the kid,” Reid said of the a veteran standout receiver last week during the NFL's annual meetings in Orlando, Fla. “I did draft him. I had a great relationship with him.”
The fact that Reid was so high on his former player just a week ago makes the abrupt pulling out of the race for Jackson a bit more questionable.
Was it money—or lack thereof—that caused the Chiefs to quickly exit the bidding war over the speedy receiver?
That seems curious because when it was officially announced that Jackson was out in Philadelphia, one of the first things he did was send out a statement via Adam Schefter's Facebook. Randy Covitz at the Kansas City Star talked about that message in his "Red Zone" post.
“First I would like to thank the Eagles organization, the Eagles fans and the city of Philadelphia for my time in Philly,” Jackson said. “I would also like to thank coach Andy Reid for bringing me in.”
The fact that the Pro Bowler would name his former coach, the one who drafted him in the second round of the 2008 draft with the 49th overall pick, might possibly say something about where his head is at. Of course, we all know that loyalty goes only so far in the NFL, but it seems peculiar that Jackson would choose money and an unfamiliar system over a coach—and system—that made him a star.
This, of course, all leads to one looming question. What happened behind closed doors to make the Chiefs pull away from the Jackson race so quickly? Did they truly see how high Jackson's price tag was rising with NFL.com's Chris Wesseling reporting that teams like the Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills are interested?
Or, as NFL Insider Ian Rapoport suggested, did the Chiefs organization learn there was some truth to the report by NJ.com's Eliot Shorr-Parks and A.J. Perez about Jackson's alleged involvement with Los Angeles street gangs?
In his statement following his release, DeSean Jackson thanked Andy Reid, and KC did inquire and did due diligence. But it wasn’t to be
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 30, 2014
While many think this was simply a case of bad journalism that could have effectively assassinated Jackson's character—one already plagued by stories of locker room discord in the past—teams are reluctant to field a player who could have ties to violence. In fact, there is speculation now that perhaps the league is aware of Jackson's off-field activities and a suspension or other discipline could be forthcoming.
Rapoport did follow up his first tweet with a clarifying statement, indicating it was the lack of the Chiefs' cap space that knocked them out of the running for Jackson's services:
https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Chiefs&src=hash">#Chiefs> & Andy Reid were intrigued by DeSean Jackson, but with limited cap space, can’t match the budding open market. Would’ve loved DeSean
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) https://twitter.com/RapSheet/statuses/450336961748684800">March 30, 2014
Regardless, it would seem obvious that with only $4.6 million in salary-cap space—according to Over the Cap—and no extensions or restructures in sight, the Chiefs are left with the NFL draft in May to fill their glaring need at wide receiver.
The Chiefs have now been involved in, and have missed out on, two of the most talented wide receivers in this year's free-agency period. Reid and general manager John Dorsey better hope they hit a home run in the draft if they intend on continuing their winning ways in Kansas City in 2014.