Jason Babin was at Trent Cole's house, hanging out with his friend and teammate, when the unexpected news arrived Tuesday afternoon.
"I told him, 'You're lying,'" said Cole of his reaction when Babin told him he'd been released by the Philadelphia Eagles. "That's what I said: 'You're lying. Don't play me like that.' I didn't believe him at first. I thought he was playing around. And he wasn't."
No, he wasn't. Neither was head coach Andy Reid, who cut the two-time Pro Bowl end to make way for some of the younger defensive linemen to get on the field, according to a statement from the team.
Of course, the Eagles could have accomplished that without releasing Babin, who despite an off year leads the team with 51/2 sacks after piling up a career-best 18 a year ago.
So it's fair to wonder if the release was intended as a message for the defense in particular and the team in general, given its abysmal 3-8 record and seven-game losing streak.
"I think it's perceived to the players as, 'Listen, you've got to do your job and help this team win around here and if not, hey, there's the door,'" said tight end Brent Celek.
While some players expressed surprise at the move, others simply said it was part of the business of pro football.
"It's sad to see him go, but we know what kind of business we're in," said Cole, who teamed with Babin to produce 30 sacks last season.
A former first-round pick, Babin bounced around with five teams in six seasons, including a stint in Philadelphia, before finding his niche in 2010 in defensive line coach Jim Washburn's wide-nine defensive front in Tennessee, when he had 12.5 sacks. That earned him a spot in the Pro Bowl and then a five-year, $28 million free agent deal with the Eagles, who had hired Washburn.
Babin had more than a third of the Eagles' league-leading 50 sacks last year, with six multiple-sack games, and went no more than two games without a sack.
But this season, he joined the rest of the defensive linemen in struggling to get to the quarterback. He went a month without a sack while starting every game for the Eagles, who rank 29th with 18 sacks.
Jacksonville, which is tied for last in the league with 13 sacks, picked up Babin on waivers Wednesday.
Tackle Mike Patterson, who along with Cole has been with the team longer than anyone else on the active roster, didn't argue that the move could have been intended as a message.
"I guess in a way you kind of expect something to happen," said Patterson. "You could look at it that way if you want to, but you just feel like the team is trying to make the best choice for us to win games. That's the only thing as a player you look at it."
Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said that given the Eagles' status as a last-place team with the worst record in the NFC, no move should be surprising.
"As of right now, I think it shouldn't really be that much of a shock," said Maclin. "I think you kind of expect the unexpected."
"We all understand that you've got to do your part," said Celek. "On the field, off the field, it takes everyone, and if you're not a part of it, then, you know, they're gonna make decisions."