Ever since the Eagles took Jason Avant with a fourth-round pick in the 2006 draft, he's been a steady (but never great) receiver for Philadelphia, averaging 37.1 catches, 456 yards and 1.5 touchdowns per year. He's been touted for his leadership and his blocking ability and his stable presence.
But on Tuesday, the Eagles released him, 11 days before they owed him a $1 million roster bonus. Overall, the team will save $3.25 million on the 2014 salary cap.
But here's what Avant meant to the Eagles. As philly.com wrote last month, "Speaking of leaders, the Eagles are expected to lose one in Jason Avant. The eight-year veteran's presence was perhaps most felt in the receiver room, especially after long-time assistant coach David Culley left and followed Andy Reid to Kansas City. Many of the receivers looked at Culley as a father figure and respected him immensely. Avant helped fill that void and kept the group together after videotape of Riley Cooper using a racial slur surfaced in August. New receivers coach Bob Bicknell is in many ways the polar opposite of the free-spirited Culley. Avant often acted as a go-between the intense assistant and DeSean Jackson."
Said Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie in a statement released Tuesday: "There have not been any players who've represented the Eagles with more class and dignity than Jason Avant. In the locker room, on the field or in the community, Avant has always been a true professional, role model and winner."
Seemingly, it's a sad day in Philadelphia headquarters.
Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) March 4, 2014
Said coach Chip Kelly: “In the year I spent with Jason, he was unbelievable in terms of his work ethic and his selfless nature. He was a great teammate. We know he will have a chance to sign with another team and by releasing him now, he will have a full offseason to make the necessary adjustments. I had a chance to speak with him today and he handled himself like the true professional he is.”