GREEN BAY -- After three years away from the field, Green Bay Packers defensive end Johnny Jolly has been reinstated by the NFL.
An NFL spokesman confirmed the news Wednesday evening, saying that Jolly's reinstatement is effective next Monday.
Jolly had been one of the Packers' best defensive linemen before several arrests for possession of codeine earned him a six-year prison sentence that started in November, 2011. However, after just six months, Jolly was released and put on “shock probation” for the next decade. He was suspended indefinitely by the NFL before the 2010 season, in which the Packers won Super Bowl XLV.
Last June, the National Football Post reported Jolly had sent a letter to Commissioner Rodger Goodell seeking reinstatement. This week, the 30-year-old got the response he wanted in the form of a letter from the NFL that Jolly posted a photo on his Instagram account. It read, in part:
“Importantly, I emphasize that your reinstatement is the beginning of your road back to a productive career in the League. We are all counting on you to continue to demonstrate that you can conduct yourself in a responsible manner and prove that you belong in the NFL.”
The Packers still own Jolly’s rights after he signed a one-year deal in 2010 worth $2.521 million. Whether they will bring him back and allow him to compete for a job is still unclear.
The 6-foot 3-inch, 310-pound Jolly was a perfect fit for defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ 3-4 defense in the lone year he got to play in the system. He started all 16 games in 2009, finishing with 24 tackles, one sack and 10 passes defended. In total, Jolly started 39 games for Green Bay after being picked in the sixth-round of the 2006 draft out of Texas A&M.
It’s clear the Packers plan to beef up their defensive line during the current offseason. They’ll likely be without defensive end Jerel Worthy for most of the upcoming season due to a knee injury suffered in the season finale in Minnesota. A number of reports have Green Bay looking at several available linemen, including former New York Giants standout Chris Canty, San Francisco’s soon-to-be free agent Ricky Jean-Francois and Cullen Jenkins, a former Packers player who was cut by Philadelphia this week.
Jolly will have to combat some rust after not stepping on a field for three seasons, so the Packers must determine whether he’ll be able to shake that off and help them in 2013.
-- Zach Heilprin
Return to: Jason Wilde Blog