Jolly’s suspension begins immediately and will continue through at least the 2010 season. He will be eligible to apply for reinstatement after the Super Bowl.
Jolly is facing drug charges in Houston after his July 2008 arrest outside a club for possession of at least 200 grams of codeine. If convicted, Jolly faces up to 20 years in prison.
“Johnny is a good player that loves everything about the game of football,” Packers general manager Ted Thompson said in a statement. “We appreciate the contributions he has made to the Packers the past four seasons. His focus and priorities now lie elsewhere—our thoughts are with him during this difficult personal time.”
The Packers said team officials would have no further comment.
It’s a significant blow to a team that will go into the 2010 season expected to make a run at the playoffs and perhaps even the Super Bowl. A defensive end in Dom Capers’ 3-4 scheme, Jolly played a key role as the Packers allowed a league-low 83.3 yards rushing per game.
Perhaps anticipating the possibility of losing Jolly to a suspension, the Packers used a second-round draft pick on Purdue defensive lineman Mike Neal in April.
Jolly, 27, was a sixth-round draft pick in 2006 and worked his way into a starting role the past two seasons.
A restricted free agent, Jolly signed before an offseason deadline the would have allowed the team to reduce the amount of its tender offer.
But Packers coach Mike McCarthy excused Jolly from the team’s minicamp in June to deal with his off-field problems.
“There’s a lot going on, and he needs to focus and make sure he has everything in line,” McCarthy said last month. “These decisions that are going to be made legally will affect every aspect of his life, most importantly his personal life and then his professional life.”