<
>

Falcons' Joplo Bartu reportedly fined $50,000 after suspension lifted

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Joplo Bartu was fined $50,000 for an alcohol-related offense after a two-game suspension was rescinded, NFL.com Insider Ian Rapoport reported.

According to the report, Bartu pleaded no contest to driving under the influence and received a two-day suspended sentence and 12 months of probation, along with enrollment in a risk reduction class. Players had until Nov. 1, 2014 to resolve DUIs for them to be accepted under the old policy that did not require a suspension, the report said.

As Rapoport explained, Bartu was given a two-game suspension in March under the NFL's new DUI policy. Bartu needed to submit his plea agreement before November. Bartu apparently reached the agreement late in October, but he didn't go before the judge until early November, leading to the suspension. Bartu then provided the NFL with additional info to prove the agreement was actually reached on Oct. 30, according to the report. The end result was the $50,000 fine and rescinded suspension.

The Falcons did not immediately comment on Thursday's report regarding Bartu's discipline. A team source told ESPN.com Bartu had tough times coping with his mother's death and simply made a poor decision. The Falcons did not believe Bartu had a drinking problem, and the team was told to keep Bartu’s situation an internal issue, the source said.

Bartu, who entered the league as an undrafted player from Texas State, became a starter by default due to injuries and the team's inability to fortify the linebacker position through the draft. He started 27 games the past two seasons and had 167 total tackles.

Bartu might find himself fighting for a roster spot during the 2015 season. He is not expected to start after the team signed veteran Justin Durant in free agency. Bartu is working as a backup at weakside linebacker.