Justin Blackmon's status up in air

ByMichael DiRocco ESPN logo
Friday, May 2, 2014

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars aren't sure what, if anything, they'll get from suspended wide receiver Justin Blackmon in 2014.

So they're making plans to be without him.

General manager David Caldwell said Friday at the team's annual pre-draft media luncheon that the team is not counting on any production from Blackmon, who is serving an indefinite suspension after violating the league's substance-abuse policy a third time.

"It would be something that would be relatively surprising," Caldwell said. "Haven't gotten a whole lot of updates from the league [of] where he's at or from Justin, to be honest with you."

Coach Gus Bradley has had minimal contact with Blackmon via text message but said it's been weeks since he's heard from him. Bradley was even unaware that Blackmon was back in the Jacksonville area earlier this year, learning of that only because of media reports regarding Blackmon's one-car accident on March 15.

Blackmon was suspended indefinitely on Nov. 1, 2013, after his third violation of the league's substance-abuse policy. The fifth overall pick in 2012 was suspended the first four games of the 2013 season but caught 29 passes for 415 yards and a touchdown in the next four games.

The Jaguars were 0-8 in those games and lost every one by double digits. The league announced Blackmon's indefinite suspension on the Friday of the team's bye week. Blackmon is eligible to petition the NFL for reinstatement this summer, but it's likely he'll have to serve at least another eight-game suspension.

Blackmon, who caught 64 passes for 865 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie in 2012, was Jacksonville's No. 1 receiver. His absence and the Jaguars' plans to move forward without counting on him could impact what the team does in next week's draft, such as giving the Jags more reason to select receiver Sammy Watkins with the No. 3 overall pick.

"Without having contact, we just have to protect the team now," Bradley said. "We've got to do what's right for the organization, so we have to continue to move forward and project that. We've got to get some guys in here at that spot, and that's why you've heard Dave talk about wide receiver is a need because of that.

"Now, if everything works out to get him back, that's OK. We always will love to get very talented players in here. But it's hard. But we just have to keep going forward."

If Blackmon is reinstated by commissioner Roger Goodell and eventually returns to active status, the Jaguars will have to decide whether they wouldn't be better off cutting ties. Blackmon's current suspension is the latest in a string of brushes with both the law and the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

He was arrested on a misdemeanor DUI charge in Texas in 2010 after officers caught him speeding on a suburban Dallas highway. The charge was later reduced to an underage alcohol-possession charge. A little more than a month after the Jaguars traded up to select the former Oklahoma State star in the draft, he was arrested during a traffic stop in Stillwater, Oklahoma, after a breath test allegedly showed his blood-alcohol content to be three times the legal limit. That arrest landed him in the NFL's substance-abuse program.

Related Video