JULY 23, 1:35 pm: The Eagles have announced that Johnson has been suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season. The team released a statement:
“We’re very disappointed to learn of his suspension. We have spoken to Lane about the details of the suspension. He understood what he did wrong and took full responsibility. The key for him, however, is to learn from that mistake and move forward with his preparation for the 2014 season.”
Johnson also addressed the suspension:
“In April while training, I mistakenly and foolishly put a prescribed medication in my body to help with a medical issue. I mistakenly failed to clear it with Eagles trainers and check the NFL list of banned substances. I am extremely sorry for this mistake and I will learn from it and be smarter in the future.
“I would like to sincerely apologize to Mr. Lurie, Howie Roseman, Coach Kelly and his staff, my teammates and our amazing Philadelphia Eagles fans. This will be very hard on me to not be battling with my teammates for four games – but I will be ready and better than ever when I return.”
JUNE 30, 3:50pm: McLane has confirmed the report. Citing NFL sources, the reporter tweets that Johnson has indeed tested positive and faces a four-game ban.
3:12pm: An NFL spokesperson would not confirm the reports, tweets Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer:
“Our office has no such information on him at this time.”
2:37pm: Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson has tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and will be suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season, sources tell Paul Domowitch of Philly.com (via Twitter). However, there has been no comment from the league spokesman, tweets NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal.
Johnson struggled at times as a rookie, but showed promise towards the end of the season. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked him as the 46th-best tackle (about middle-of-the-road), but they also ranked him among the ten worst pass blockers. He did rank positively in run blocking, where he finished tenth among tackles.
The Eagles were expected to return their same offensive line as 2013, but those plans would obviously change if Johnson is suspended. Allen Barbre, who signed an extension with the Eagles this past offseason, would likely take Johnson’s place at right tackle. As Sheil Kapadia of PhillyMag.com notes, it was Barbre who filled in for an injured Jason Peters last season.
Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com guesses that a four-game suspension would likely cost Johnson $934K in salary and forfeiture (via Twitter). He adds that a suspension could also void his guarantees (via Twitter).