It took long enough.
Philadelphia Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson’s 10-game suspension has been upheld, according to the MMQB’s Albert Breer, who was informed of the news by Johnson’s lawyer Steve Zashin.
Per lawyer Steve Zashin, Eagles OT Lane Johnson has been informed his 10-game suspension has been upheld.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 11, 2016
Here’s a statement from Zashin on the matter.
“We are disappointed with Arbitrator James Carter’s Summary ruling. We will wait for his formal written opinion. After we review that decision, we will consider all available legal options.”
This is the second PED offense for Johnson, who signed a five-year, $56.3 million contract during the offseason, which made him the highest paid right tackle in the NFL He was also suspended four games in 2014 due to a positive test for adderall.
A third suspension would constitute a permanent ban from the league.
Johnson won’t be eligible to return until the Eagles’ Week 16 matchup against the New York Giants.
Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman released a statement as well.
“We’re very disappointed that Lane Johnson has been suspended 10 games. His actions have affected the entire organization. We are all working under a clearly-defined set of rules and regulations set forth by the NFL in the collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA. Moving forward, he has no choice but to hold himself accountable to Jeffrey Lurie, Coach Pederson and his staff, his teammates, and to the entire organization and our fans. When he returns from suspension, we will continue to support him and welcome him back to the team. We are moving on with our preparations for this week’s game in Washington.”
So what does this mean for the Eagles’ offensive line? During the preseason, head coach Doug Pederson elected to move starting left guard Allen Barbre to right tackle and rookie third-round pick Isaac Seumalo to left guard, but last week Pederson suggested that since Barbre has played so well at left guard, he didn’t want to tinker with that. Rookie fifth-round selection Halapoulivaati Vaitai might be the starter at right tackle if Pederson elects to go that route.
“Talking with (offensive line) coach (Jeff) Stoutland and watching Big V closely, not just through the preseason, but in practices these last couple of weeks, we want to exhaust all possibilities,” Pederson said last week via Philly.com. “Allen has been playing great at left guard. If you don’t have to disrupt two positions and can just do one (it’s preferable). There’s some conversation that we still have to have. But yeah, he’s definitely in the mix.”
Vaitai struggled during the preseason, but he’s apparently taken a huge step forward since. He doesn’t take any first-team reps, but the coaching staff acknowledged he’s been holding his own against the defensive end trio of Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and Connor Barwin.
“We have not given him first-team reps yet,” Pederson said. “But he’s been going up against our starting defensive line all of the regular season so far. The work he’s done in that capacity, against a good defensive line, gives us confidence that if we had to make that decision (to play him), we could do that and not bat an eye. Going back and evaluating even his preseason games and looking at that and where he is physically and mentally, puts him in a good position to potentially be that right tackle.”
Practice is one thing, an NFL game is another. We’ll see how Vaitai fares if the Eagles elect to go this route.
UPDATE: Vaitai will reportedly start at right tackle in Johnson’s place, according to NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo.
Sources: Eagles will start rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai at RT and leave Allen Barbre at LG.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) October 11, 2016