NFL GM: Justin Blackmon’s Career Likely Over


Former Oklahoma State standout and most recently Jacksonville Jaguar receiver Justin Blackmon has endured a turbulent road of his own doing during his short time in the NFL.

According to Jaguars GM David Caldwell, that time is most likely done.

“I have not heard anything and I guess I harbor a little bit of hope but realistically I think when you’re away from the game for two-and-a-half years what you were once is not what you probably will be,” Caldwell said to ESPN’s Mike DiRocco on Tuesday. “Your skills do erode and especially if you’re not staying in tip-top shape and you’re not in football shape. I don’t know to expect but I would say common sense would probably be if you haven’t played football in two-and-a-half years apparently that’s not a priority for you.”

The news shouldn’t come as shock to anyone that has followed Blackmon’s career since being drafted as the No. 5 pick overall in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Arrested for a DUI in Stillwater just three months before his first NFL game, Blackmon has remained in trouble over various substance abuse issues since, and hasn’t played a down since Week 8 of the 2013 season, when he caught four passes in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

“I don’t know to expect but I would say common sense would probably be if you haven’t played football in two-and-a-half years apparently that’s not a priority for you.”

The former Cowboy great and two-time Biletnikoff Award winner burst onto the NFL scene during his first season with the Jaguars, leading all rookies in receptions and receiving yards by the end of the year. His 2013 prospects looked even more promising, but he was forced to sit out the first four games of the 2013 season after failing an offseason drug test, a blatant violation of the NFL’s Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. Blackmon was initially placed in NFL’s substance abuse program after his first arrest.

Blackmon would return in Week 5 of the season, and immediately picked up where he left off, catching five passes for 136 yards and a touchdown against St. Louis. He would later be suspended for the remainder of the 2013 season in Week 9 after violating the Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse yet again. Blackmon was then deemed eligible to apply for reinstatement in 2014.

“I want to sincerely apologize to (Jaguars owner) 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 said in a released statement at the time. “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.”

Blackmon’s reinstatement plans were derailed in July of 2014, when he was arrested during a traffic stop for possession of marijuana in Edmond, Oklahoma.

Later, in October of 2014, Jaguar coach Gus Bradley provided an update on Blackmon, stating that the receiver had checked himself into a voluntary rehab facility. “He’s healing and taking time for himself,” Bradley said at the time. “The great thing is he has chosen this for himself. It’s awesome to hear about.”

Aug 24, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon (14) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter of their game against the Philadelphia Eagles at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Blackmon’s positive news didn’t transition into a 2015 NFL return however, as he was denied reinstatement to the league on May 10. Possible reasons for denied reinstatement include failed or missed drug tests.

Despite all of this, the Jaguars have not cut Blackmon, and Caldwell has said several times that the team does not plan to. Blackmon’s longtime spot on the reserve/suspended list means he doesn’t count against the roster limit or salary cap. The Jaguars do not have to pay his salary, but they have elected to keep his contract paused in hopes of his return. Blackmon would have 2 1/2 years left on his deal with the Jaguars should he ever return to the NFL.

Caldwell and the rest of the Jaguars organization have stood by Blackmon’s side throughout all of his ordeals, and that is to be commended. The team has always spoken well of Blackmon, and seemed to genuinely like him as a person, believing that he could turn it all around if given the chance(s). Not every team would do this, especially for such a young and still somewhat unproved player. Hopefully Blackmon recognizes that, and is appreciative.

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  • However, given the number of chances, and the lack of communication from Blackmon, it might be best for both parties to officially separate, and move on. If the young receiver has indeed played his last down in the NFL, his 2012 and 2014 arrests would serve as unfortunate-yet-appropriate bookends to his pro career.

    Say what you will about Blackmon’s offenses involving one legal substance, and a substance that is now legal in several states, the NFL’s rules are the NFL’s rules. The repeated offenses show that Blackmon just isn’t interested in abiding by the rules that would keep him in a league and sport that he has, for the most part, performed highly in.

    That fact alone probably says more about his interest in football going forward, more than just some booze and a bag of weed.

    Best of luck to him, and whatever he chooses to do with his life post-football. Some things just aren’t meant to be, and that’s okay. It’s likely that some Oklahoma State and Jacksonville fans will likely continue to hold out hope, as long as the Jaguars hold on to Blackmon’s contract…and that’s okay too.

    Only time will tell, but the history gives us a good indication of the future.

    Next: Who Will Be The Cowboys Third-String Quarterback in 2015?