Argonauts Land Justin Blackmon’s CFL Rights

The Toronto Argonauts added suspending Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon to their “confidential” negotiation list earlier this month, according to Sportsnet’s Arash Madani. This does not mean Blackmon is ticketed for the Argos, but it does mean that they will hold the talented athlete’s rights should he ever decide to attempt a comeback up north.

Under the CFL’s “Ricky Williams rule,” any player suspended by another professional football league is ineligible to play in the CFL until that discipline is rescinded. Even if the former No. 5 overall pick decided to take his talents to Canada, he’d still have to get his situation squared away with the NFL. There’s also the matter of the Jaguars still holding his rights, though the team does not expect him to play football again.

“I have not heard anything and I guess I harbor a little bit of hope but realistically I think when you’re away from the game for two-and-a-half years what you were once is not what you probably will be,” GM Dave Caldwell said earlier this month. “Your skills do erode and especially if you’re not staying in tip-top shape and you’re not in football shape. … I don’t know [what] to expect, but I would say common sense would probably be if you haven’t played football in two-and-a-half years apparently that’s not a priority for you.”

Blackmon was suspended indefinitely in 2013 for repeated violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, and would have to apply for reinstatement and go through a lengthy vetting process before having the opportunity to get the greenlight from the NFL. Blackmon has been arrested on drug charges since being suspended, though he has completed a voluntary rehab program.

Despite their pessimism about Blackmon’s NFL future, the Jaguars will continue to keep the 25-year-old on the reserve/suspended list in an effort to recoup some of his signing bonus. Blackmon’s service-time clock remains on hold during his suspension, so if he were to ever return to the Jaguars, he’d still be under contract with the team for multiple seasons.

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