The name of the game for the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason has been reinforcement. The team has re-signed multiple free agents of their own and strengthened themselves in the short and long-term because of it. Tuesday morning, although it was to be expected, the Eagles made their first subtraction of note, releasing veteran WR Jason Avant.
Eagles have released Jason Avant. A great Eagle and all-time great guy. Will be missed.
— Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) March 4, 2014
Avant, 30, was set to make a $1 million roster bonus had he remained on the team for a week longer. Instead, he will leave the Eagles after eight extremely productive seasons. The 4th round pick out of Michigan overcame not having the most desirable physical traits for a wideout through tireless effort and intense work ethic. Through multiple different quarterbacks, Avant produced from the start. Although never the most dynamic threat in terms of getting in the endzone, Avant averaged just under 40 catches a season despite, at best, being the quarterback’s third option most of the time.
Avant saw his production slip last season. Even without Jeremy Maclin on the field, Avant turned in his lowest reception output (38) in five years. Despite being an admirable blocker downfield, something praised by this coaching staff, Avant just does not fit in the future framework of what the team is trying to do on offense. Members of the team’s brain trust acknowledged the veteran wide receivers dedication to the team and praised Avant’s professionalism through the whole process. Owner Jeffrey Lurie released a statement:
“There have not been any players who have represented the Philadelphia Eagles with more class and dignity than Jason Avant…Whether it was in the locker room, on the playing field or in the community, he has always been a true professional, a role model and a winner every step of the way.”
With this move out-of-the-way, the Eagles are moving forward (for now) with DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper, and Jeremy Maclin on the outside. There has been much speculation about the team taking a wideout with an early draft pick, given the depth and talent of the incoming class. Avant’s release, although anticipated, only heightens this notion. One can expect, as the draft draws nearer, to hear the Eagles name attached to some of the big names.
For Jason Avant, at least we always have catches like this to remember.