Last season Colts receiver LaVon Brazill missed the first four games due to a suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He'll miss much more time this year after a third violation of the substance abuse policy, and today the NFL announced that Brazill has been suspended for at least a year, meaning he will miss the entire 2014 season.
He won't receive his 2014 salary, costing him $570,000, though for a guy who was on the bubble of the roster anyway like Brazill, the result will likely be the team cutting him - though the Colts said no statement about that would be made today and so nothing official has happened.
The wide receiver depth takes a hit, though the position looked to be the deepest on the team anyway. Brazill wouldn't have seen much playing time at all, though he is a talented receiver who could have helped the team if for no other reason than depth. Yesterday we looked at how there would be a battle in training camp at the position between Brazill, Da'Rick Rogers, and Griff Whalen to make the roster, likely with two of them making it and one getting cut. Brazill was in no way guaranteed of making the final roster - in fact, out of the 620 people who voted in the poll yesterday, 56% of you said you'd cut Brazill out of that group.
Well, now the battle in camp won't be nearly as big of a battle. LaVon Brazill made Chuck Pagano's decision much easier, though I'm sure Pagano would rather have had to choose between the three and have Brazill still there. Keep in mind that the Colts have Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Hakeem Nicks, and Donte Moncrief already at the wide receiver position. Then add in Da'Rick Rogers and Griff Whalen, who both look likely to make the roster now, and the wide receiver depth still looks very promising. Furthermore, however, the suspension of LaVon Brazill opens up the door to a few undrafted receivers, who now move up one spot and have a bit better chance of making the roster. They still are currently on the outside looking in, but perhaps now one of those guys needs only to beat one guy ahead of him instead of two. There still might be a battle in camp, but it won't be the one between Brazill, Whalen, and Rogers because Brazill won't be in camp and he very well might never be for the Colts again - that remains to be seen.
Brazill was the team's sixth round pick in 2012 and played in 25 games with the Colts over the past two years, catching 23 passes for 347 yards and 3 touchdowns. In 3 postseason games, he caught 7 passes for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns. He showed his talent at times, such as a 42-yard touchdown catch his rookie year in Detroit to contribute to an incredible comeback over the Lions or his 2-touchdown performance against the Bengals this past season where he broke a ton of tackles or his 2-touchdown performance in the playoffs against the Patriots. He has the talent, but on the field he was inconsistent and off of it the Colts had even bigger concerns - there were rumors the Colts didn't like his work ethic (I don't know if that's true or not) and weren't happy in that way, and then of course his substance abuse issues which has now led to him being suspended for an entire year. He will have to apply for reinstatement after the year suspension is up.
This hasn't been a great offseason for the Colts. First owner Jim Irsay got into trouble and a punishment (likely including a suspension) for him is likely still coming, and then star outside linebacker Robert Mathis was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league's substance abuse policy - for trying to get his wife pregnant. Now Brazill is suspended for an entire year. It's just a dumb move by a talented player, and I hope that he gets the help that he needs, I truly do. For the Colts, Brazill was a bubble guy anyway and they still have depth at wide receiver. I can only imagine, however, that they're ready for this rough offseason to come to an end.