The New England Patriots might get a big addition to their passing game, and it’s not because Rob Gronkowski is coming back.
Josh Gordon has finally taken a step towards an NFL return. The former NFL receiving champ has applied for reinstatement, according to veteran reporter Howard Balzer. ESPN confirmed the report on Wednesday. Gordon announced he was “stepping away” from the Patriots late last season, then it was reported he had violated the league’s substance-abuse policy again.
Gordon’s history is well documented. He had substance-abuse issues in college and throughout his Cleveland Browns career. In 2013 he led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards, but the story of his career since then has been multiple suspensions.
The Browns finally moved on from Gordon, and the Patriots took a chance. He had 720 yards in 11 games for New England last season before more off-field problems surfaced. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will decide on Gordon’s reinstatement. Although Gordon missed the final two games of last season and all three playoff games, it’s still possible Gordon gets reinstated but is served an additional suspension. It’s hard to tell what the NFL will do in any discipline case.
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But Gordon needed to apply for reinstatement before anything else happened. Now that process can start.
The Patriots need Gordon. They have slot receiver Julian Edelman, but not much on the outside. Training camp reviews of first-round pick N’Keal Harry have been mixed, which should be expected for a rookie receiver in a new offense. The Patriots’ other options on the perimeter are unproven.
There’s no timetable on his return, however. It might take Goodell a while to decide. Gordon could be suspended some more. It’s hard to plan on when Gordon will return, or whether he can remain on the field once he does return. But the story has huge implications on the NFL season. The Patriots’ Super Bowl defense would be a lot easier with a former receiving champion back on the field.
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