The Eagles' decision to cut ties with one of the most electrifying players in club history comes after the team uncovered information about Jackson's off-field connections and activities, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. In addition, the source said, the Eagles decided to release Jackson rather than trade him to another team that might be unaware of the info.
"After careful consideration over this offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles have decided to part ways with DeSean Jackson. The team informed him of his release today," the Eagles said in a statement.
Earlier Friday, a report by NJ.com said the Eagles had become increasingly concerned about Jackson's off-field activities and his reputed ties to Los Angeles street gang members.
A league source told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio that the Eagles decided to release Jackson for a number of reasons due mostly to "work ethic and attitude."
The Eagles, according to the source, learned about Jackson's associations in Los Angeles on Wednesday night, and that report "raised their level of concern," the source said.
Coach Chip Kelly, general manager Howie Roseman and owner Jeffrey Lurie discussed the situation with the club's lawyers over the past 24 hours and decided the best course of action would be to release Jackson. After the NJ.com report, the Eagles stopped talking to other teams about trading Jackson.
Following his release, Jackson, 27, issued a statement that both thanked the Eagles for initially giving him a chance and denounced reports like the one by NJ.com.
"First I would like to thank the Eagles organization, the Eagles fans and the city of Philadelphia for my time in Philly," the statement read. "I would also like to thank [former] coach Andy Reid for bringing me in.
"Secondly, I would like to address the misleading and unfounded reports that my release has anything to do with any affiliation that has been speculated surrounding the company I keep off of the field. I would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang. 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. I look forward to working hard for my new team."
NFL teams have become more cautious since last summer, when former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who also reportedly had gang ties, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
The Eagles' decision to release Jackson was supported by center Jason Kelce on Twitter:
We just made an extremely unpopular decision, but I couldn't be more excited and happy with where this organization is going!! #FlyEaglesFly