Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon will miss the first month of the 2013 season as he has been suspended by the National Football League for four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.
"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," Blackmon said in a statement issued by the Jaguars. "I will have a productive training camp and preseason 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."
Blackmon's suspension is not his first misstep since entering the NFL.
Two days after the Jaguars completed their OTAs last offseason, Blackmon was arrested in Stillwater, Oklahoma on aggravated DUI charges. For Blackmon, it was his second DUI arrest (the first occurred while he was playing for Oklahoma State University in 2010, but his charges were reduced), and he avoided jail time with a guilty plea the following month. Blackmon received a deferred sentence of one year along with a $500 fine and an order to complete 50 hours of community service.
The four-game suspension will cost Blackmon $289,754 (4/17ths of his $1,231,455 base salary) and might void the guarantee language on the $10,722,248 in base salaries and annual roster bonuses that remain on his four-year, $18.512 million rookie contract. The Jaguars could also seek to recoup the prorated portions of his $7.11 million signing bonus in 2012 and $1.7 million in roster bonuses in 2013 for the weeks that he is suspended, which amounts to $818,235.
Blackmon, 23, was selected by the Jaguars with the fifth overall pick of the 2012 NFL draft. Blackmon started 14 of 16 games, playing in 90.78 percent of the Jaguars' offensive snaps and led the team with 64 receptions and was second on the team behind Cecil Shorts with 865 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns. Blackmon's receiving yards was the most among NFL rookie wide receivers in 2012.
Blackmon came on strong over the final month of his first regular season, catching 25 passes for 308 yards with two touchdowns over the final four games. The Jaguars had hoped that the 6-foot-1, 207-pound Blackmon would carry over that performance as they attempt to improve the league's 29th-ranked offense, but Blackmon's 2013 debut will have to wait until the Jaguars visit the St. Louis Rams on Oct. 6. Blackmon will miss games against the Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts.
The Jaguars are not particularly deep at the receiver position, with Cecil Shorts, free-agent addition Mohamed Massaquoi, Jordan Shipley and 2013 fourth-round pick Ace Sanders behind Blackmon on the depth chart.