Posted on August 9, 2016, by Travis Pulver
The Philadelphia Eagles thought they were doing the right thing when they locked up offensive lineman Lane Johnson to a five-year, $56.25 million contract extension with $35.5 million of it guaranteed. He has proven himself to be an effective blocker and the team thought he was worth paying well and keeping around.
It’s a shame they may not see him take the field until late November after he serves a 10-game suspension due to a positive PED test (second offense).
Johnson did what every other player does when this kind of news breaks–he denied it. According to him, the positive test was triggered by an approved amino acid. According to Philadelphia Daily News reporter Les Bowen has reported that Johnson asked several times if what he was taking was okay and was told yes.
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Should that indeed be the case, he may have a case for leniency when he appeals. But the NFL has a long-standing policy of holding players ultimately responsible for anything they put in their bodies.
Should the suspension stand, the remainder of the guaranteed amount of his new extension will no longer be guaranteed. He could still make the full value of the extension, but he will no longer have anything guaranteed. So while he isn’t losing any money, he could become a potential salary cap casualty if his play ever slips.
He missed four games during the 2014 season for his first violation, which, according to Johnson, was because of something in a medicine prescribed by his family physician.
His agent, is, of course, denying that Johnson has been suspended. Until his appeal is done, the general public is not supposed to know, but the league has had a lot of trouble keeping these things under wraps these days.
“We are aware that a member of the media has started a rumor that Lane Johnson will be suspended for a PED violation,” said Johnson’s agent, Ken Sarnoff, in a statement released to ESPN on Tuesday. “Lane has not been suspended and any report to the contrary is false. None the less we will not comment on my client’s protected health information.”
The Eagles are taking the appropriate approach to the rumors and are not commenting on them. Should they lose Johnson for ten games, they will have a pretty big hole to fill. Not only has he developed into one of the better offensive linemen in the league, but he doesn’t miss much time. He did not miss a single offensive snap or the Eagles (1,102) last season.
Last season they ran the second highest number of plays off the right tackle’s shoulder (84) in the league and didn’t do half bad when they did (4.55 yards/play).
The team currently has Dennis Kelly listed as the second team tackle behind Johnson and rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who they selected in the fifth round of the last draft. When teams start making cuts in a few weeks, the Eagles will probably be paying close attention to what right tackles hit the waiver wire.