Could Justin Blackmon’s suspension put his roster spot in jeopardy?
Justin Blackmon led the Jaguars with 64 catches last season, his first in the NFL, and he is expected to be the No. 1 receiver on the roster this year too. So, new Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley and GM Dave Caldwell likely are in no rush to get rid of the 23-year-old Blackmon, despite his four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
Should they want to cut bait on Blackmon in the near future, though, it now would be a lot easier to do so.
That’s because, as pointed out by the National Football Post’s Joel Corry on Twitter, Blackmon’s off-field miscue scrapped the guarantees from the remainder of his salary — the Jaguars handed Blackmon a fully-guaranteed four-year, $18.5 million contract after drafting him, but put in a clause that lessened those guarantees to just his $7.11 million signing bonus if he got suspended. Blackmon held out after being selected by the Jaguars in last year’s draft, then was arrested for an aggravated DUI before inking his contract.
What this all means is that the Jaguars could release Blackmon immediately and owe him no additional money (for salary cap purposes, the signing bonus prorates out over the four years of his contract, but Blackmon received that money up front). Blackmon’s current deal runs through the 2015, with base salaries of $1.232, $2.073 and $2.914 million for the upcoming three seasons, respectively.
This could become even more important because Blackmon was drafted by the Jaguars’ previous regime. The Bradley-Caldwell combo recently added WR Ace Sanders in the draft, plus signed free agent Mohamed Massaquoi. The Jaguars also last week picked Denard Robinson, who worked out as a receiver but looks set to play running back.
The Jaguars’ new brass is working, as it should be, toward revamping a disappointing receiving corps. While sending Blackmon packing would be counter-intuitive toward that aim, the former Oklahoma State star has propped open a little wider the door to that possibility.