It was unclear if Kelly made any promises, but the Philadelphia Daily News reported that the coach told his receiver not to worry about reports that the Eagles were looking to move him and to get ready for camp.
Kelly is scheduled to meet with reporters Wednesday morning at the NFL owners meetings, so the timing of the call raises questions about the coach's intentions. The two had not spoken since the end of the season, a source close to Jackson said.
An Eagles spokesman said the team had no comment. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie declined to address Jackson's future during a break at the meetings.
For weeks, the possibility of Jackson's departure has seemed to grow. Last week, three NFL sources told The Inquirer that the Eagles were actively shopping the Pro Bowl receiver. There were initial reports that the Jets, Raiders, Panthers, 49ers, and Seahawks had expressed some interest in Jackson.
Jets owner Woody Johnson said Sunday that his team was interested but unlikely to trade for Jackson. The Raiders reportedly took the same stance. Jets coach Rex Ryan and Raiders coach Dennis Allen stayed away from answering questions about Jackson, citing tampering rules.
The 49ers have denied any interest, and the Seahawks and Panthers reportedly are not likely to be interested, either.
The Eagles reportedly were seeking at least a third-round draft pick for Jackson, but sources said they were unlikely to get as much and may have to release him if they do not want him back. So the Eagles stand the chance of getting nothing in return for the 27-year-old, who is coming off the best season of his career.
When asked about Jackson on Monday, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said only that the receiver remained under contract. He did not comment when asked if Jackson would be on the team by April 21 when offseason workouts start.
Even if Jackson is on the roster, he is under no obligation to attend voluntary workouts, although he could have a bonus triggered by his attendance. The draft was pushed back two weeks this year and will be held from May 8-10.
It could be some time before there is a resolution, and the result could be that the Eagles retain Jackson. Kelly's call to Jackson may have been an attempt to begin to mend fences.
Former Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who signed with the Jets last week, alluded to issues between the coach and the receiver when he was asked during an ESPN radio appearance why the Eagles might be looking to move on from Jackson.
"Chip Kelly is a leader. I think you have to know Chip Kelly to understand what kind of person he is," Vick said. "DeSean is not a bad person by any stretch, but I think certain organizations want things done a certain way.
"DeSean is a very productive player, and everybody has a lot of respect for him, but at the end of the day, [it's] Chip Kelly's decision, and what he's going to do is his decision."
Later Tuesday, Vick appeared on SportsNet New York and spoke further about Jackson, who was his teammate for five seasons in Philadelphia.
"I think sometimes it takes a change in your life to understand really what needs to happen, and the course that needs to be set," Vick said. "Maybe it's time for a change for DeSean to help him understand the maturation process of his young NFL life and his personal life.
"Whatever happens, I will continue to be a great friend to him and try to help him as much as I can mentor-wise so he doesn't have to go through any situations that may be detrimental to his life."
Former Eagles coach Andy Reid was asked at the owners meetings Tuesday if he faced any challenges coaching Jackson.
"I have nothing but positive things to say about him - really, any of the guys on that team," said Reid, who is now the Chiefs coach. "Probably need to stay out of that [topic]. That's a tricky one for a coach that's changed teams."
Reid was then asked about Vick immediately after Jackson and said, "I love both those guys."