MIAMI — Free agent Jason Ferguson, a veteran nose tackle most recently with the Miami Dolphins, has been suspended for the first eight games of next season for violating NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed on Sunday that the discipline was handed down late this week but could offer no further details. Ferguson was also suspended for violating NFL drug policy in 1999, sitting out four games after an anabolic steroid showed up during a urine test.
The player's agent, Jimmy Sexton, did not return a call Sunday seeking comment.
Ferguson was sidelined with a season-ending quadriceps injury in November and underwent surgery a month later. The 35-year-old had been in on 23 tackles in nine games for the Dolphins last season. Coach Tony Sparano called him a "heck of a player" at the time of his injury.
A Dolphins spokesman, Harvey Greene, said Ferguson remained a free agent and had not signed a new contract.
"We won't comment because he's not officially on our roster," Greene said. The team has not said whether they planned to re-sign Ferguson for next season.
Ferguson was drafted in 1997, playing eight seasons with the New York Jets and three with the Dallas Cowboys before joining Miami in 2008. He has 325 career tackles.
Ferguson tested positive for marijuana at the scouting combine in 1997. During his 1999 suspension, he passionately denied taking steroids, saying he used a dietary supplement, which he would not identify, but that contained no banned substances.
"People are thinking I'm a drug addict or something like that, and that's ridiculous," Ferguson said at the time. "I read bottles and I know steroids. I didn't take no damn steroids."