The Jacksonville Jaguars' nightmare season hit its nadir Friday. Wide receiver Justin Blackmon was suspended indefinitely for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy again. The earliest he'll be eligible to rejoin the team is prior to the start of the 2014 season.
NFL Media's Albert Breer reported Friday that the Jaguars "plan to stick by" Blackmon in the short term. They believe he was making progress with his substance abuse problem before this setback.
Let's be real. Blackmon would be done if he was an average player. But he probably has a future with the team because of his talent. There is often a sliding scale of justice in the NFL. The more production a player has, the more leeway he gets. Blackmon's talent is not in question.
Only Calvin Johnson and Julio Jones gained more receiving yards per game this season. Blackmon was slimmer and faster than he was during his rookie year. He was the best player on the worst roster in the league.
General manager David Caldwell and owner Shad Khan have a difficult decision to make. They could cut Blackmon without any major financial repercussions. So is he the kind of player the Jaguars organization wants to be known for? Can the team trust he won't slip up again?
Caldwell's statement on the matter was very supportive, which is to be expected. Blackmon has a reputation as a well-liked player in the building by coaches and players. He has a serious problem that needs to be treated, and now is not the time to make any final decisions.
"The Jacksonville Jaguars will evaluate Justin's status once he has successfully met the criteria to be considered for reinstatement to the league," Caldwell said.
By the time Blackmon will be eligible for reinstatement, the Jaguars will look very different. They will have a new "franchise quarterback" to replace Blaine Gabbert. Maurice Jones-Drew should be long gone. We can only hope the Jaguars aren't trying to erase the stain of an 0-16 season.