The move comes as a surprise by a team that could use more than a few helping hands on defense. It makes more sense when you examine where this struggling organization sits in late November.
"We appreciate everything that Jason has given this team over the last couple of years," coach Andy Reid said in a statement. "We wish him all the best as he continues his career. By releasing him today, this gives us an opportunity to give more playing time to some of the younger guys in the defensive line rotation."
"Honestly, my situation, maybe it was the best thing for me," Babin told ESPN's "NFL Live" on Tuesday. I've learned in my life now not to judge any situation or any action or person too quickly."
Babin joked that "anytime your cell phone rings and it says 'Andy Reid,' you know it's not good," but said the coach "just said he wants to give the other guys a chance to play and give me a chance to move on earlier than later."
Around the League reached out to NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah, the former Eagles scout who said Philadelphia was likely to release the 32-year-old Babin after the season. Jeremiah pointed to a genuine desire inside the organization to give playing time to rookie Vinny Curry and third-year end Brandon Graham. Benching Babin would likely create uneccesary awkwardness. From that angle, the move makes sense.
Babin's productivity has tailed off this season. After piling up 18 sacks in 2011, he totalled just 5.5 takedowns through 11 starts in 2012. That falloff has contributed to a defense that ranks 28th in the NFL with just 18 total sacks, but Jeremiah emphasized Babin doesn't deserve the blame. Anybody who's watched the Eagles in recent weeks would first point to a secondary lost at sea.
Babin was set to make $4.225 million in 2013, with another $6 million between 2014 and 2015. Pass-rushing ends are liquid gold in the NFL and the nine-year veteran is certain to generate interest. Teams running a 4-3 scheme with use for a third-down edge rusher will do their homework. Babin must first clear waivers. NFL Network's Albert Breer reported the veteran has already claimed termination pay in his career, a one-time option that means the Eagles owe him nothing.