Justin Blackmon won’t see the field again until the 2014 season, and there’s no guarantee he’ll be with the Jacksonville Jaguars when he does step back into action. The Jaguars announced Friday that Blackmon will miss the rest of the 2013 season for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. This isn’t the first time the troubled receiver has had a run-in with the league. Blackmon also missed the first four games of this season for that same reason. He’ll be eligible for reinstatement prior to next season.
Despite his apparent drug-related struggles, Blackmon did release a statement that conveyed all the right messages, saying, “I want to sincerely apologize to Mr. Khan, my teammates, my coaches and to the Jaguars fans for not utilizing the resources that I was provided to overcome my challenges.” Blackmon also said, “I will address these matters with the type of intensity I usually direct toward my on-field play so that I can be ready to be a productive member of the team and community next season.”
Unfortunately, this is a line we’ve heard before, and now it’s a case of, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
With the loss of Blackmon, the Jaguars offense will likely fall backwards, if that’s at all possible. In just four games, Blackmon accumulated 415 yards receiving (about half of his 16-game total from a year ago), including one touchdown reception. Despite missing the first four games of the year, Blackmon was easily on pace to break through the 1,000 yards receiving mark.
Moving forward, the Jaguars will have a difficult decision to make regarding Blackmon. Because of his contract, the Jaguars may cut ties with him and move on without owing him a single cent more. During the former regime, the Jaguars’ mantra of only employing role-model players (which may have been a cover for only signing cheap player) would have dictated his release, but David Caldwell may wish to be patient with Blackmon.
In all reality, Blackmon will likely get one more chance with the Jaguars. Following this season, the Jaguars will truly begin rebuilding their roster from the ground up. A new quarterback will almost certainly be brought in through the draft, and Blackmon could be a great target for a young signal caller.
Still, Blackmon actually has to stay on the field to make an impact in the Jaguars’ offense, and that hasn’t been the case this season. If he can clean his act up, he may be able to make a great career in Jacksonville, or even elsewhere in the NFL, but right now, he’s showing all the signs of a classic draft bust that should have been a homerun.