Lane Johnson has been suspended for the second time in three years for PEDs. It’s might be time for the Eagles to cut their loses.
It was reported Tuesday that right tackle Lane Johnson is looking at a 10-game suspension for allegedly taking performance enhancing drugs. This will be the second time Johnson has gotten caught using PEDs as he was previously suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season.
For his part, Johnson first denied the reports he was getting suspended, then changed his story. He told Jay Glazer of Fox Sports that the substance he took was approved.
“Just heard from Lane Johnson, says he took an amino acid that was approved but tested positive for peptide. Fighting it as well as company. You’re responsible for what goes in your body but he insists it was approved. Waiting on B sample.”
The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is reporting that Johnson plans to appeal the suspension.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 9, 2016
As most are aware, Johnson signed a five-year, $60 million contract extension this offseason that made him one of the highest paid offensive tackles in the NFL. The deal includes $35 million in guaranteed money that would be voided in Johnson does get suspended for a PED violation.
Needless to say, this is a huge blow to the Eagles’ offensive line. If Johnson does sit the first 10 games of the 2016 season, the team is looking at starting some combination of Dennis Kelly and rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai at right tackle.
Given that Johnson is supposed to be the heir apparent to Jason Peters, things only get worse if (God forbid) Peters goes down with a serious injury. In that case, with Johnson unavailable, Matt Tobin will become your starting left tackle. With Peters already dealing with a quad issue that will keep him on the bench for the first preseason game, this is a very real possibility.
Considering where the Birds are in their soft rebuild and the fact this is Johnson’s second PED violation, I think it might be time for the Eagles to walk away.
If a players gets one PED suspension, you can explain it away fairly easily. He didn’t know what he was taking. The doctor prescribed it. He didn’t realize it was on the banned substance list.
Nine times out of ten, the player in question learns their lesson and it doesn’t happen again.
But this is Johnson’s second violation which sends up all kinds of red flags. I don’t care how much he denies it or swears up and down it was an approved substance, twice is a pattern. And patterns are worrisome.
More Eagles: Carson Wentz Hasn’t Seen Anything Yet
The last thing the Eagles want to see happen in for Peters to retire, Johnson to take over at left tackle full-time and then lose him for an entire season because of PEDs. That is a risk that, at this point, the team doesn’t need to take.
Release or trade Johnson and see what Kelly and Vaitai are capable of. Maybe they will surprise you. And if they don’t, then go out and get an offensive tackle that will get the job done.
Because right now, Lane Johnson is doing more sitting at home than actual playing. And that isn’t going to help the Eagles win many games this season.