In his first experience of his career as an unrestricted free agent, safety T.J. McDonald has yet to determine where he will play next season.
However, it looks like that process may a bit longer with the NFL announcing on Wednesday that the former Los Angeles Rams' defensive back will be banned for the first eight games of the 2017 regular season without pay for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
This course of action taken by the NFL stems from an arrest in May 2016 where he received a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of drugs. In January, McDonald pleaded no contest to one count of wet reckless that resulted in 36 months of probation and he was required to enroll in both a 30-day live-in drug program along with a three-month
He was also directed to perform 200 hours of community service, which he already had 16 hours of credit due to his time spent in custody. On top of that, he had to pay a $1,914 fine along with restitution to the owner of the car he damaged. This ruling comes on the same day that McDonald was visiting with the Miami Dolphins, who are the first team that he has seen face to face since becoming a free agent.
During his tenure with the Rams, McDonald was a source of reliability in the secondary taking the field for 53 starts over his first four years in the league. Last season, he started all 16 games while recording 64 total tackles with one sack, two interceptions, and six pass deflections.
According to Pro Football Focus, McDonald was graded 58th overall among all qualified safeties (75.3), 23rd in pass coverage (80.8), and 78th against the run (53.6). Los Angeles is expected to head another direction at the position with Maurice Alexander expected to take over his spot in the starting lineup next season under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme.