Williams and Davis were among 11 NFL players who failed drug tests at the start of training camp, immediately after the NFL lockout was lifted. But as part of the settlement between the NFL and the players’ union, those players received no punishment under a 30-day grace period granted players. During the four-month league shutdown, players were neither tested nor counseled about drug use.
Davis and Williams both failed an additional test during the season for recreational drugs, believed to be marijuana, according to people familiar with their cases. Under the settlement between the NFL and the union, the third positive test is being treated as a second offense, which carries a four-game suspension.
Both players allegedly failed tests for marijuana use some time earlier in their careers.
News of the suspension first broke Sunday, shortly before the Redskins’ 34-19 loss to the New York Jets at FedEx Field.
Davis, whose contract expires at the end of this season, was working with an attorney before the NFL issued its statement Tuesday afternoon to determine whether he could challenge the penalty. But he seemed to have little recourse. Because the suspension is part of a deal between the league and the union, he would have to challenge both if he went to court.
Davis’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has not responded to requests for comment.
Williams, according to one person who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, accepted the suspension after he and his representatives concluded they had no other choice except to fight both the NFL and the union. The Williams camp, the person said, was disappointed with the deal struck by the union, believing the final outcome should have been more lenient because of the circumstances of the lockout.
The Redskins confirmed the suspensions Tuesday afternoon, after the NFL issued its statement. Under league policy, neither player will be allowed to visit the team’s Redskins Park facility or take part in any team-related activities until the suspension is lifted immediately following the regular season. They also will be removed from the team’s 53-man roster.
Davis has career highs this season in catches (59) and yards (796). He is in the final year of his rookie contract and is scheduled to be a restricted free agent after this season. He was supposed to make $600,000 this year but will likely lose $141,176 by missing the final four games.
Williams, the fourth pick in the 2010 NFL draft, was set to earn $7.852 million in the second year of his rookie contract. He stands to lose nearly $1.85 million.
Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan declined Monday to discuss the matter until he was notified by the league. Williams and Davis were at Redskins park Monday and participated normally in team activities, he said. Players had the day off Tuesday.
“Number one, there’s a strict, confidential protocol between the NFL and the players association, and I have not talked or spoken with the NFL thus far,” Shanahan said Monday. “Until I do, there’s not really anything I can say at this point. . . . I don’t want to go through those scenarios — hypothetical situations — until I know for sure what the NFL and the players association has agreed to.”
Staff writers Rick Maese and Barry Svrluga contributed to this report.