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Jaguars Would Be Wise to Sign Justin Blackmon for Slot as Soon as Possible

Justin Blackmon needs to be in the fold where he can get help.
Justin Blackmon needs to be in the fold where he can get help.Rick Dole/Getty Images
Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistJune 5, 2012

Justin Blackmon's legal issues carry with them a unique problem.

He has not yet been signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Jaguars are in a difficult position, to say the least.

On one hand, handing a multimillion dollar contract to a young man just arrested for aggravated DUI will not sit well with fans.

On the other hand, there is a strict slotting system for NFL draft picks, and you can be sure his agent Todd France is not going to sit idly by and allow his client to get less than slot as a preemptive punishment for what remains a technically unproven crime.

The Jaguars could try and force some kind of citizenship clause on Blackmon as a way of "insulating" the team against future indiscretions, but such clauses tend to be difficult to enforce and rarely result in the team recouping losses.

The truth is that there is little the Jaguars can do at this point. If they try and push Blackmon, they may save a few million, but they'll be risking a holdout and more acrimony and alienation between the fans and Blackmon. They have to question whether the savings would be worth the risk.

At this stage, if Blackmon can't learn his lesson and toe the line after this latest incident, no morality clause in his contract is likely to alter his behavior.

The Jaguars have two choices. They can embrace Blackmon, bring him into the fold and try to help him from the inside, or they can deal Blackmon away and wash their hands of him.

They already dealt up to get him. They already started building an offense with him in mind. They've already committed to the Blackmon era.

It's inconceivable that they would trade him, so they have little choice. They are going to have to pay Blackmon his slotted contract.

Squeezing the troubled young man for a few million won't help the team and it won't help Blackmon.

Getting him in the fold quickly and quietly just might.

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