Signing Justin Blackmon at a Discount


Justin Blackmon was the consensus top receiver in the 2012 draft.  By a wide margin.  He’s probably going to be one of, if the not the, best receivers from his class this year.

But with an aggravated DUI and a widely publicized .24 breathalyzer test, it may just be time the Jaguars started trying to bid a bit lower on the Oklahoma State star.

The top eight picks from the 2012 draft have yet to be signed.  From Andrew Luck to Ryan Tannehill, the players have been trying to impress their team during OTAs in order to ensure that they’re worth the money that the team will throw at them.  21, 22, and 23 year old boys (rarely are we men at this age) given large amounts of money in signing bonuses and guaranteed contracts.  Clubs trust that their investment will pay off and pray the player doesn’t do anything stupid.

Like get charged with an aggravated DUI in Oklahoma.

Blackmon was impressing coaches during OTAs.  He had Head Coach Mike Mularkey excited about his play.  He was asking questions of the schemes being put in place by offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski.  Jerry Sullivan had a star to work with as a position coach.  Blackmon did everything right during his time working out with the team.  His value was secured.

His DUI came at the wrong time.

His second DUI in 20 months (he had one in Texas in 2010), getting suspended for a couple games may be the least of Blackmon’s concerns.  Maybe he has a problem that goes beyond a couple nights of binge drinking.  Maybe Blackmon just had a bad night and made a bad decision.  We simply don’t know what was (or wasn’t) going through his head.

Either way, his value plummeted for a team that places a very, very strong emphasis on high character.

The Jags won’t low ball Blackmon.  His talent is too good to risk a holdout, media controversy, or losing crucial development time during the preseason and early weeks of the season.  He’s definitely worth some money.  Yet, how much is the club’s public image worth?

What does a club value integrity and its cherished values and principles at?

Is it a two game suspension?  Knocking $4 Million off the signing bonus?  A removal from first team reps?  A stern sit-down with General Manager Gene Smith?  Does the team force him to attend some meetings like some colleges do?  Is it just going to be a simple statement read to the public announcing a game suspension like coach Mike Gundy did at Oklahoma State during Blackmon’s previous DUI?

What value is placed on integrity?  What value is placed on the Jaguars’ cherished values and principles?

If this were Dallas or Cincinnati, Blackmon may get paid more for the extra “free” exposure his situation has brought the team.  So long as he performs on Sunday (or doesn’t perform given the teams’ track records), the team doesn’t care.  There’s no such thing as bad press, right?

There is if you’re a small market team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2007.

That bad press may cost Justin Blackmon dearly.  But whatever “discount” the Jags get from Blackmon’s poor decision probably won’t be enough to compensate for the poor media attention that threatens the integrity of an organization that is trying to forge a new identity post 2008.

– Luke N. Sims

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