The Philadelphia Eagles parted ways with one of their veteran leaders Tuesday.

Wide receiver Jason Avant's eight-year tenure with the team ended when he was released.

"There have not been any players who have represented the Philadelphia Eagles with more class and dignity than Jason Avant," Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a 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."

Avant, a fourth-round draft pick in 2006, spent the bulk of his Eagles' career as their No. 3 wide receiver. He currently ranks 11th in franchise history with 297 receptions for 3,646 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Avant, 30, was an even bigger factor in the locker room. In 2010, Avant was elected by his teammates as the Ed Block Courage Award recipient in recognition of the adversity he overcame as a youth in Chicago.

His influence was really felt this past season when he came out in support of fellow wide receiver Riley Cooper after a video surfaced showing Cooper shouting a racial insult at a Kenny Chesney concert.

"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 in a statement. "It's a tough day when you have to say goodbye to 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's production went down last season, however. He caught 38 passes for 447 yards and two touchdowns. He had the fewest catches and least receiving yards since 2008.

His future with the Eagles became questionable once they opted to re-sign both Cooper and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin last week to team with wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Avant was due to make $2.25 million this season and was scheduled to receive a $1 million roster bonus later this month.

"In the year I spent with Jason, he was unbelievable in terms of his work ethic and his selfless nature," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said in a statement. "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 (Tuesday) and he handled himself like the true professional he is."

Avant's departure leaves linebacker Trent Cole (2005), guard Todd Herremans (2005) and long-snapper Jon Dorenbos (2006) as the only players who joined the team prior to 2007.

Contact David Weinberg:

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