[UPDATE 10:50 AM] - The Eagles’ Howie Roseman released a statement on Lane Johnson’s 10-game suspension being upheld:
“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.”
An NFL spokesperson also released a statement, confirming the suspension. It included this detail:
He will be eligible to return to the Eagles’ active roster on Monday, December 19 following the team’s December 18 game against the Baltimore Ravens.
[ORIGINAL] - According to Albert Breer of the MMQB, Lane Johnson’s 10-game suspension has been upheld by arbitrator James Carter. Johnson will be suspended for 10 games, starting this weekend with the Eagles’ Week 6 matchup against Washington.
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 is a statement from Lane Johnson's outside counsel on the NFL's decision ... pic.twitter.com/pvpZLlYoRb— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 11, 2016
Thus seemingly ends a saga that began in early August, when news of Johnson’s suspension leaked early on in the process.
This is the second time Johnson has been suspended by the league; he was suspended for the first four games of 2014 for a performance-enhancing drug run-in.
What’s interesting to note in attorney Steve Zashin’s statement, however, is that Johnson will consider all available legal options proceeding. They could theoretically try to bring Johnson’s case before a judge and hope to be granted a stay. The situation will bear watching as it develops.
For now, however, it seems the Eagles are without Johnson until Week 16, which would make him available for the final two games of the season, against the Giants and the Cowboys.
Looking at the makeup of the division right now, the final game of the season against the Cowboys could be a very important one: the Cowboys are currently 4-1, and the Eagles are currently 3-1. If that game is for the division title, having Johnson back would certainly be helpful for the Eagles.
Doug Pederson has discussed more than one plan for what the Eagles would do with Johnson out of the mix, but the most relevant and frequently-talked-about one from the past week has been moving rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai to right tackle in his place. This allows the other four positions to remain unchanged, keeping as much continuity as possible.
Pederson said Monday that, if Johnson were unable to practice or play on Sunday for any reason, Vaitai would take reps at starting right tackle. Expect the rookie to be the man on Sunday against Washington.
[UPDATE 2 11:20 AM] - According to a report from Mike Garafolo, the Eagles will start Vaitai at right tackle.
This is a developing story. We’ll update as more details emerge.