Half of Jacksonville's camp nightmare is over.
Justin Blackmon has officially signed his deal (hat tip to Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union) and will be in camp soon. Of course, as a consequence of the team letting the drama drag out, he'll miss the first preseason game. As a note of clarification, the team and player reached an agreement, but the deal will be signed tomorrow.
According to Gene Frenette of the Times-Union, the team "won" its showdown over language protecting the club against further DUI problems by Blackmon.
Great job, Jaguars. There's nothing like winning the battle and losing the war.
Getting Blackmon into camp quickly would have ensured that he was with the team, that he had the franchise's support as he attempted to make whatever life changes were necessary and that the narrative around his incident would have changed.
As it stands today, what have the Jaguars accomplished? They have ensured the franchise saves some money if things with Blackmon go horribly wrong.
I hope that keeps Gene Smith warm at night.
The fact is that if Blackmon does indeed have a problem, a contract clause won't serve as a deterrent to his behavior. If he doesn't have a problem, then the clause wasn't necessary at all. If the team really thinks Blackmon is a risk to be a repeat offender, they are already admitting they made a horrible mistake in drafting him.
The front office feels good with the win, but the relationship with Blackmon is already off on the wrong foot. If he struggles at all to acclimate to the offense, everyone will point to his hold out and then immediately back to his DUI.
The Jaguars have ensured Blackmon's crime will be a story line all season.
Perhaps the only thing they accomplished by getting Blackmon signed with the clauses intact is that they have provided a built-in excuse for Blaine Gabbert if he struggles early in the year. (And no, I'm not insinuating that was an actual motivation. No one is that stupid.)
This hold out won't define Blackmon's career, and I still think he has a bang-up term in Jacksonville, but having already lost half of camp and a preseason game before he can even pad-up isn't going to help him acclimate this year.
The Jaguars are protected three years down the road, but they are exposed and vulnerable in 2012.
That's a terrible trade to make.
Andrew Brandt of ESPN.com posts contract numbers for Blackmon that contradict Frenette's assertion that the team got any DUI protection.
If Brandt's numbers are correct, the team got even less out of the protracted showdown than it first appeared.
All the Jaguars gained by delaying the signing of Blackmon was a change in cash flow, while still guaranteeing him the same amount of money.
I hope it was worth it.