IRVING, Texas — Dallas backup safety Jakar Hamilton has been suspended for the first four games for violating the league’s policy on substance abuse.
The league announced the ban for the Strom Thurmond High School alum Thursday. The second-year player was eligible for Dallas’ final preseason game against Denver Thursday, but wasn’t expected to play because of a leg injury.
With a four-game suspension, this is Hamilton’s second violation of the league’s drug policy. According to the collective bargaining agreement, he must remain in Stage Two for 24 months or two full seasons, whichever is shorter. In Stage Two a player is subject to unannounced testing up to 10 times per month. Another failed test could lead to a one-year suspension.
Hamilton’s the second Cowboys defensive back to get banned the first four games. Starting cornerback Orlando Scandrick was suspended for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Neither player will be able to practice with the team in the first four weeks of the regular season. Both are eligible to return on Sept. 29.
Undrafted out of South Carolina State, Hamilton played in three games for Dallas as a rookie last season. He had three tackles. He made one tackle in his only preseason appearance on Aug. 16 against the Baltimore Ravens.
While he wasn’t picked in the 2013 NFL Draft, it didn’t take long for Hamilton to sign with the Cowboys as a priority free agent. Hamilton – who spent a year at Georgia Military College, two at Georgia and finally another at South Carolina State – was cut at the end of the 2013 training camp. He was re-signed to Dallas’ practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster at the end of the season.
The 5-foot-11, 186-pound Hamilton – known for his athleticism and football acumen – is fighting to keep his spot on the Cowboys’ 53-man roster. He missed the first preseason game because of a concussion and didn’t play last week against the Dolphins because of a hamstring injury, missing a chance to matchup with Miami rookie receiver Matt Hazel – a North Augusta graduate.
“Jakar’s done a really nice job,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett told ESPN.com earlier this week when asked about Hamilton’s chances of making the roster. “Unfortunately, he has been banged up here the last couple weeks. He’s a guy that really, really made great strides, both as a back-end safety, played a little bit as a nickel guy, he’s improved on special teams. He has a lot of physical ability, and the big thing with him, like a lot of young guys, is simply maturing as a player. He definitely demonstrated that. But he has been out the last couple weeks. We like him a lot, and he’s certainly developed quickly for us, but his injury’s certainly a factor in our evaluation of him.”
With the suspensions of Hamilton and Scandrick, the Cowboys are facing a fine of close to $44,000 from the NFL. According to league rules, when a player is suspended without pay for a violation of the personal conduct policy, policy and programs for substances of abuse or policy on anabolic Steroids or Related Substances, the team will have to remit to the Management Council a portion of the players’ salary that is deemed forfeited.
With two suspensions, the Cowboys will owe 15 percent of what Scandrick and Hamilton would make over a four-week period. Scandrick will make $750,000 this season. Hamilton will make $495,000. Over four weeks Scandrick would make $176,470 and Hamilton would make $116,470. Fifteen percent of $292,940 is $43,941.
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