After the Eagles re-signed both Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper last week, it was pretty safe to predict that the team would have to make some tough decisions with other expensive veteran players. The first of those moves came yesterday, when the team released eight-year veteran receiver Jason Avant.
While it would have been hard to blame Avant for publicly expressing discontent for the Eagles after his release, he instead did what he did his entire Eagles career. Instead of publicly griping about his release, Avant sincerely accepted his release in an exclusive interview with CSN Philly’s Derrick Gunn last night.
“I knew [being released] was likely, but you never know in those situations,” Avant said. “I was 99 percent sure but there was still that one percent chance.
Not only did Avant admit that it wasn’t exactly a surprise to be let go, but he thanked the Eagles for not dragging the move all the way into the draft or even training camp, as he will have many more free-agent offers now that he is available prior to the star of the legal tampering window (begins Saturday) and free agency (begins next Tuesday).
“But at the same time, I really respect the Eagles for letting me know so soon, so I can be on the market before free agency. That’s beneficial to you rather than go into it with 100 other players.”
Avant was never a superstar in his eight seasons with the team (never had more than 700 receiving yards or three touchdowns in a season), but his ability to get open on third and short, mixed with his leadership and humbleness, made him one of the type of players that you couldn’t help but smile for when he made a big play.
As an athlete myself, I give Avant props for accepting his release, because it certainly isn’t something that I could do. But, in many senses this move came at the exact right time for both sides, which is perhaps why this isn’t an ugly breakup. The Eagles can now focus on continuing to build an offense that fits Chip Kelly’s fast-paced, stretch the field system. Avant gets a shot to go to a more traditional offense, where he has a good chance to catch 50 passes again next season.
I don’t normally go out of my way to root for many former Philadelphia athletes, but Jason Avant will join Jim Thome, and a select few, as athletes that I really want(ed) to see join a championship contending team and win a title, just as long as it isn’t at the expense of Philadelphia.