Just days before the first NFL preseason game is set to take place, a major wrench is being thrown at the Philadelphia Eagles. According to Yahoo! Sports, starting right tackle Lane Johnson is set to be suspended by the league for ten games. There are talks that Johnson is leaning towards filing an appeal with the National Football League.
The reason why the suspension is going to last for such a long period of time is because Lane Johnson is a repeat offender. The NFL had already handed down a four-game suspension back in 2014 for the same violation.
Since Lane Johnson violated the performance enhancing drugs policy as opposed to the recreational kind, the Philadelphia Eagles were not nearly as nervous about committing long term. That was proven back in January when the Eagles surprisingly handed Johnson a $65 million contract extension, of which an enormous $35.5 million was guaranteed.
There is speculation floating around right now that the Philadelphia Eagles possibly added some clauses in the contract to prevent them from another drug suspension. Lane Johnson might need to give up some of that guaranteed money. It appears highly unlikely that the Eagles would completely part ways with Johnson at this point, but it cannot be completely ruled out.
The timing of the suspension could not have come at a worse time for the Philadelphia Eagles. They are more than likely going to be without both their starting left tackle and starting right tackle. Jason Peters is still out nursing a quad injury, as reported by CBS Philly.
With Jason Peters not ready to get back on the field, the Philadelphia Eagles have been using Matt Tobin in his place. The former Iowa Hawkeyes star has 30 games underneath his belt. Tobin has also started 20 of those games, so he has some experience on his side.
Replacing Lane Johnson for those ten suspended games should either be Dennis Kelly or Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Kelly might have the advantage because he has 30 games under his belt, with 15 of those as a starter. Vaitai has yet to play in an NFL game, as he was just drafted weeks ago during the fifth round.
The silver lining in this is that Matt Tobin, Dennis Kelly and Halapoulivaati Vaitai get an opportunity to show that they deserve to be the starting right tackle down the road. The plan for the Philadelphia Eagles all along was to shift Lane Johnson to left tackle once Jason Peters decides to walk away from the NFL.
Lane Johnson is denying that he has been suspended, as reported by CBS Sports. That happens a lot at the beginning when professional athletes get into some sort of trouble. Once the NFL makes an announcement, then the denial will shift.
If the ten game suspension does go through, then the Philadelphia Eagles will need to think long and hard about the future of Lane Johnson. A third violation would mean a two-year suspension. That is a long time to go without the top offensive lineman on the team.
This incident will prove to be quite the test for Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson. It is his first time in the leading role. NFL executives will keep a close eye on how Pederson handles Lane Johnson and the situation. It could be extremely vital if Pederson were to look for another head coaching job down the line.
Lane Johnson and his people will try to explain how this was all a misunderstanding and that he took a supplement that he thought was approved. The NFL, on the other hand, believes that players should know what goes into their bodies.
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