High-quality-character guy… Jason Avant was and still is the epitome of that descriptive cliche which the Eagles owner Jeff Lurie used himself so often to define the kind of players he wanted on his team.
Today Avant was released by the Eagles after 8 years of consistent if not spectacular production as a slot receiver and special teams performer. Drafted in the 4th round in 2006 out of Michigan, the 6-0 212-lb. receiver was valued for his reliable hands, precise route-running and willingness to block downfield.
Avant is 13th on the Eagles' all-time list with 3,646 receiving yards. Avant played in 116 games for the Eagles, and only four wideouts have appeared in more games for the franchise, and his 297 receptions ranks him 11th in the history of the franchise. While those numbers won't put him in the Hall of Fame, finishing in the top 15 of nearly every statistical receiver category is impressive. More than 400 receivers have worn an Eagles' jersey.
On the surface Avant's release looks like a pure cap-room move. If so, you can't totally rule out the possibility that Avant could clear waivers and be re-signed by the Eagles in a restructured contract deal.
But that appears unlikely at the moment. Questions had arisen about Avant's declining speed and whether he was a good fit for Chip Kelly's offense.
Avant was due a $1 million roster bonus on March 15, and was set to count nearly $4 million against the cap in 2014, a number that was too high considering what the team is set to pay its top three wideouts — DeSean Jackson ($12.7 million), Riley Cooper ($5 million) and Jeremy Maclin (up to $6 million).
There is so much talent at wide receiver in the upcoming 2014 Draft that Avant was considered expendable.
"There's no question that releasing a player like Jason is one of the toughest parts of the job," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. "It's a tough day when you have to say goodbye to a player who you have so much respect for."
"I can't thank him enough for the leadership, the big plays and the positive impression he made on so many of his teammates."
Avant had 38 catches for 447 yards and two touchdowns this past season.
"In the year I spent with Jason, he was unbelievable in terms of his work ethic and his selfless nature," Chip Kelly said. "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."
Avant's public motto is "Trust In God"…. his personal belief in that concept is now to be tested. I think he'll be okay. He's saved his money. He still wants to play.
"There have not been any players who have represented the Philadelphia Eagles with more class and dignity than Jason Avant," Lurie said in the statement. "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."
"On behalf of the entire organization, I wish Jason and his wife Stacy, and their two daughters, nothing but the best as he continues his fine career."
Yes, it's important to me to remember that Jason Avant DID make some big plays over the years…and other teams around the league remember, too. I'm not trying to stir the pot here, but I just received an unconfirmed tip that the New York Giants have already contacted Avant's agent.