Jags open to playing Justin Blackmon if reinstated


The Jacksonville Jaguars aren't counting on the return of Justin Blackmon for the 2014 season, but the team doesn't plan on severing ties with the wide receiver, either.

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NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday morning that the Jags are open to taking back Blackmon and playing him if the NFL reinstates him this season, according to a source with knowledge of the team's plans.

ESPN first reported the Jags' thinking.

Blackmon missed the first four games of 2013 due to a violation of the substance-abuse policy. After just four games the NFL suspended the receiver again -- this time indefinitely -- for the same violation.

The former No. 5 overall pick has shown loads of talent when he's on the field. Any team would covet his combination of size, speed and playmaking ability.

However, it's his off-field trouble that has his future in doubt.

"I think it's an absolute tragedy. ... I think he's such a talented guy," Jags owner Shad Khan said in May. "The best years (are) ahead of him but after a while, it's out of your control."

What is not out of the Jags' control is the ability to dangle a carrot out in front of Blackmon. By being open to his return, the organization is giving the 24-year-old -- who clearly has substance-abuse problems -- incentive to seek assistance, get clean and work toward a return (when and if the NFL allows that).

Cutting Blackmon serves little purpose (he's not taking up a roster spot) for the player or organization.

The Jags, as a practical matter, aren't banking on Blackmon's return in 2014. The front office hasn't been sitting on its hands, either. It added Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson -- two potentially dynamic fits -- in the NFL draft.

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