Miami Dolphins

Is T.J. McDonald in legal jeopardy? Here’s the full story

T.J. McDonald started eight games at free safety in 2018.
T.J. McDonald started eight games at free safety in 2018. AP

Is Dolphins safety T.J. McDonald headed back to jail?

The short answer: No — assuming he fulfills his legal obligations.

Why is this even a question?

McDonald, on probation after pleading down a 2016 DUI charge, is “wayyy behind on his community service and didn't complete his alcohol program,” TMZ reported Wednesday.

But that is only half of the story.

Here is the rest: McDonald asked for and received an extension from the court to fulfill the terms of probation, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.. As long as he fulfills his obligations this offseason, he should be in the clear.

McDonald, who signed a four-year, $24 million contract extension with the Dolphins last summer, is due back in court in March. If this issue is not resolved, he could be sent back to jail.

And if he is, the Dolphins could void the guarantees in his deal. The Miami Herald has obtained a copy of his contract, and there is language that would place McDonald in default if he “is incarcerated resulting in the player’s failure or refusal to report, practice or play with the club.”

However, that does not seem likely at this point.

McDonald was arrested nearly two years ago on charges that he crashed into a parked car while under the influence. He pleaded down and in exchange got three years probation and was ordered to complete 200 hours of community service, complete a three-month alcohol program and attend Narcotics Anonymous, according to TMZ.

Head Coach Adam Gase, Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum and General Manager Chris Grier, left to right, talk to the media during a Miami Dolphins press conference at the Baptist Health South Florida Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University on Wednesday, January 3, 2018.

He was also suspended by the NFL for the first eight games of the season.

The first week McDonald was back with the team, a reporter asked him whether he had fulfilled all of his legal obligations.

His response?

“It’s in the process.”

Miami Herald staff writer Armando Salguero contributed to this report.

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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