The NFL has once again suspended Jaguars WR Justin Blackmon due to violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He will now miss the remainder of the 2013 NFL season and be forced to apply for reinstatement to the league next season. Blackmon came into the NFL with a checkered past and it was a major part of the negotiation of his rookie contract that he signed in 2012.
Blackmon’s contract is somewhat unique in that it contained a smaller than slotted signing bonus due to concerns about his off field behavior. Instead they were replaced by roster bonuses that were treated as signing bonus. However for forfeiture purposes those bonuses should be prorated beginning in the year paid. In addition he will not be paid the remainder of his salary for the season. For the 2013 season Blackmon received $1.7 million total in roster bonuses and had a Paragraph 5 salary of $1,231,455.
Blackmon will miss 13 weeks total of the 2013 season. Per my estimates this should cost him the following:
Signing Bonus Forfeiture: $1,359,265 (13/17 of $1,777,500 SB allocation to 2013)
Roster Bonus Forfeiture: $433,333 (13/17 of $566,667 RB allocation to 2013)
Lost Salary: $941,701 (13/17 of $1,231,455 Paragraph 5 Salary)
Total Lost: $2,734,299
But the consequences of Blackmon’s actions should go much further than just his salary forfeitures. Blackmon had $8,080,647 in fully guaranteed compensation coming his way in 2014 and 2015. This was protected with “no offset” provisions. All of those will definitely be gone from his contract. Considering the heavy risks associated with signing him he could be released next season and would undoubtedly have to sign a contract for far less money than the money coming his way in his rookie deal.
Because he will only be in the NFL for two years the Jaguars would not be allowed to renegotiate his contract to include more protection for the team. He would need to be released first. If the NFL denies reinstatement the Jaguars would be entitled to collect more signing and roster bonus money. The thing that works against release is that one released Jacksonville would part ways with their ability to recollect more of his signing bonus in the future should he get suspended again if he is reinstated. It may be more prudent to allow him to play out the 2014 season, if the League allows, to keep their bonus protection intact. League rules should not allow Blackmon’s contract to be terminated until after he is reinstated by the NFL.
The Jaguars also now should have other options with Blackmon in the future. As a top 10 first round draft pick Blackmon was going to be eligible for a 5th year option in his contract that would have been equal to the transition tender that existed in the prior year. Having only suited up for 4 games in 2013 Blackmon will not earn an accrued season for 2013, which requires 6 games. That should make Blackmon a Restricted Free Agent at the end of his 4 year contract, adding what could be another interesting layer to this situation.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.