By Nick Shook | NFL.com
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Justin Blackmon‘s future remains uncertain, but the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars let it be known he won’t be turned away if and when he returns.
“Absolutely,” Jaguars owner Shad Khan replied Friday when asked if he would welcome back the suspended wide receiver, per the Florida Times-Union. “As a matter of fact, I’m very optimistic. I think he’s paid his dues. I think he’s got his life together. I think he can be a role model for people who have gone through hard times. We’re waiting for him.”
Drafted in the first round in 2012, Blackmon has rarely been on the field. He’s been arrested for drug- or alcohol-related offenses three times since he entered the league — his third offense coming in July, in the midst of his indefinite suspension — and checked himself into a treatment facility in September.
Since then, he’s kept a low profile. Jaguars general manager David Caldwell told media members on Dec. 30 that the team wasn’t counting on Blackmon’s return, adding “we also know he’s a good person fighting a tough battle.”
Blackmon must be reinstated before he can take the field, but the Jaguars aren’t negatively affected in the meantime, since he isn’t earning a salary or taking up a roster spot. The receiver showed his immense talent while in college at Oklahoma State, and it appears as though Jacksonville will be more than happy to have him.
If he completes a comeback, he’ll not only be a good example of redemption, but also a key weapon for a young Jaguars offense that includes quarterback Blake Bortles, wide receivers Allen Hurns and Cecil Shorts, and do-everything back Denard Robinson.