One day after Eagles Coach Doug Pederson said Josh Huff would not be suspended by the team following his arrest as he entered New Jersey — via the Walt Whitman Bridge, with a gun, hollow-point bullets and weed in his car Tuesday morning — the third-year receiver was cut. Well then.
When pressed on Wednesday about why he wasn’t disciplining Huff, Pederson said, “I want to see exactly what happened, maybe talk to some people and find out. It’s outside of the building, obviously, and a lot of times, these situations are out of our control. I just want to get everything tightened up.”
General Manager Howie Roseman tightened it up for him.
The Eagles released Huff on Thursday morning. Bang. (Too soon?)
“For us, we just want to go through a process, gather all the information and then sit down as an organization that we think is the right decision for the Philadelphia Eagles,” Roseman said over and over again in his short press conference Thursday. “For us, based on the circumstances and the facts involved we thought it was the right thing to do for our football team.”
The sound you hear is Roseman stuffing a crow sandwich down my throat. I wrote just yesterday in response to Pederson’s comments that the Eagles were typically hiding behind the NFL when it comes to player discipline. Roger Goodell has created a structure where the league takes the lead on player discipline, so Pederson’s dance around punishing Huff on Wednesday fell right in line with that (backwards) logic.
Roseman did one better, jettisoning Huff without needing the league to intervene.
Roseman said he, team president Don Smolenski, Pederson and owner Jeffrey Lurie made this decision together, and he and Pederson told Huff in person this morning. “Everyone was on board with the decision,” he said. “That’s why we made the decision.”
It’s worth noting, of course, that Huff was a Chip Kelly guy, and Roseman has made it something of a personal mission to get rid of all the players Kelly brought to the Eagles, in one way or another. That’s not to say the release isn’t justified. Players in the NFL are cut for way less than what Huff did, and his production on the field, save one kick return for a touchdown, barely warrants a spot on the roster even if he was saving kittens in Fairmount Park and helping old ladies cross Broad Street in his spare time.
Huff played 30 games for the Eagles in his truncated career, catching 48 balls on just 75 targets. This season he had 13 catches in seven games, averaging 5.5 yards per reception. He had a career 499 yards from scrimmage and 1,165 kick return yards — an average of 27.7 per return — the cautionary tale of a guy with loads of talent, but little production to back it up, thereby making him easily expendable.
“We spent a lot of time over the last 48 hours just making sure we had the information and that we weren’t rushing to judgement,” Roseman said, “and that we have a process in place for these sort of things that could lead what we think is the right decision.”
He said they have a process a lot. By our count, the word ‘process’ was used 11 times in eight minutes.
Huff sounded less than contrite when speaking with reporters on Wednesday, leading some to speculate that his lack of remorse may have been a final straw for the franchise. It’s one thing to be stupid and get caught with weed and a gun, but don’t double-down on it by sounding like it’s not a big deal when you could be facing potential jail time in New Jersey.
The Eagles haven’t exactly been consistent with punishments this year. Linebacker Nigel Bradham brought a loaded gun to an airport — a much worse offense, one would think, to driving around with a gun in your car — and he wasn’t punished by the team, outside of some reporters noting that in his next game he got fewer first-half snaps than expected. Bradham, you’ll remember, also punched a man in the face before the season started. He didn’t miss any time for that, either.
Roseman was asked repeatedly about that, and ducked every question with aplomb, talking about their process for each incident, assuring reporters the Huff situation wasn’t a message being sent to the rest of the locker room. Roseman also admitted without saying so that the team threw Pederson in front of the press on Wednesday with a lie.
“Our number one priority is to do what’s right for this team and coach is 100 percent on board with this and doing that,” Roseman said. “At the same time, while we are going through the process, sometimes we have to protect the outcome and we don’t want to get to the outcome without going through that process.”
In other words, they couldn’t cut Huff yesterday so Pederson said he wasn’t being suspended this week even though the team had, by all accounts, every intention of cutting him today. Technically Pederson didn’t lie. He was just protecting the process.
While wildly inconsistent, it’s clear Roseman, Pederson and the Eagles organization — led by Lurie — are sending a message to the remaining players on the roster. Huff is out. The tolerance has been set at zero.