The Jacksonville Jaguars continued adding to a burgeoning offensive core by drafting tackle Luke Joeckel No. 2 overall in the 2013 NFL draft, but they reportedly will be without their 2012 first-rounder for the first quarter of next season.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon will be suspended for the first four games of the 2013 regular season due to a violation of the league's substance-abuse policy:
The Jaguars' official Twitter feed confirmed Schefter's report:
Upon the news of his suspension hitting the wire, Blackmon released a statement, per NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano:
I’ve made a mistake and I have no excuse. I am truly sorry and disappointed in myself for putting the Jaguars in this situation, and I look forward to putting this behind me and maturing and growing as a person. I will have a productive training camp and pre-season with my team, and during the suspension I will work hard to stay in top football shape and be ready to help the Jaguars when I return. I have chosen to be accountable for my poor decision, and I sincerely apologize to my teammates, coaches, the front office and Jaguars fans for the impact of my mistake on the team.
It is not known at this time what substance Blackmon tested positive for. Under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, the league is not allowed to disclose the specificity of a player’s case or which drug was taken.
However, it was noted by USA Today's Mike Garafalo that Blackmon was suspended by the league for a substance-abuse violation—not performance-enhancing drugs:
This isn’t Blackmon’s first incident with substance-related problems since coming to the NFL. In June of 2012, Blackmon was arrested in Oklahoma for DUI, having blown a .24 on the breathalyzer test—three times the legal limit. Blackmon later pleaded guilty to the charges and was ordered to pay a $500 fine and do 50 hours of community service.
Drafted fifth overall in 2012 by Jacksonville, Blackmon’s rookie season went the way of many at his position—miserable at first before a breakout. Connecting with backup quarterback Chad Henne, who took over for an injured Blaine Gabbert, Blackmon had 38 receptions for 615 yards and four touchdowns in the season's final seven games.
That came after a first half in which the former Oklahoma State star failed to make much of an impact. Blackmon finished with 64 receptions for 865 yards and five touchdowns, with many expecting a leap heading into his second season.
While that leap may come, it won't happen in the first quarter of the season. Blackmon will be allowed to participate in preseason games and training camp, with his suspension kicking in Week 1.
Blackmon not only faces missing four games of the 2013 season, but his wallet could take a hurting with this suspension. According to Joel Corry of The National Football Post, Blackmon should lose over $10 million in guarantees from his contract:
To put it mildly, this is a major mistake that will cost the Jaguars on the field and Blackmon personally.