Patriots Rumors: When Josh Gordon Is Released, Will New England Come Calling?

By TomDarcy
Oct. 01, 2016

The Cleveland Browns are expected to release troubled but talented wide receiver, Josh Gordon, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports. Gordon, 25, informed the Browns that he would not be  pursuing a return to the team and instead intends on entering into an in-patient rehabilitation facility.

The news comes days before Gordon's four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy was set to expire. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has backed Gordon through his recovery and reinstated him on a conditional basis this past offseason. In a letter to Gordon, the commissioner wrote, "As we discussed at our [July 19] meeting, as Commissioner, I want nothing more than to see you turn your circumstances around and succeed. Countless others including your agent, teammates and coaches, Mr. Haslam and the leadership of the organization, the Program professionals and Jim Brown also have pledged to provide you with every resource at their disposal. But as you acknowledged, ultimately, your future is your responsibility. I have every belief that you can make the right choices, but it will be up to you to do so."

No one -- not even Gordon himself -- knows when the dynamic receiver will return to the field, but he will undoubtedly have a number of the NFL's elite lining up for his services once he can. Figuring to be atop the list of team's reaching out to Gordon is the New England Patriots, who have yet to find a viable outside threat since Randy Moss was traded to Minnesota. The Patriots wanting to sign Gordon makes sense, but why Gordon would want to sign with New England makes even more sense. With the Kraft family, the Patriots have one of the best ownership groups in the NFL, perhaps in all of sports. With Robert and Jonathan Kraft, the organization will create an environment in which Gordon can focus solely on football while having a tremendous support system in place for his off-field issues, as well. Gordon also has the chance to go from the ever-revolving turnstile of head coaches and quarterbacks to arguably the greatest head coach-quarterback combo of all-time in Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Nowhere will his past be less of an issue than New England, because no coach can deflect questions like Belichick, and no team provides generic answers like the Patriots. Instead, Gordon will have the chance to make the playoffs for the first time in his career -- and with that, begin to write a new chapter of success.

As far as competitors for Gordon, expect the Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Baltimore Ravens to show the most interest. Early rumblings have the Cowboys being the most aggressive, but should someone with a history of drug abuse really go to a team owned by Jerry jones? Let alone a team starting a rookie at quarterback, albeit a pretty good one. The Panthers make the most sense given their lack at receiver last season once Kelvin Benjamin went down, while the Steelers and Ravens are always looking to acquire the best talent possible to compete with each other, and the Patriots.

We know the affinity Belichick has for former Cleveland Browns players, which makes Gordon to the Patriots realistic. The greater questions are whether or not the Patriots need Gordon, and how he will fit in their system. The Patriots offense works best with slot receivers with excellent speed and footwork, and every once and awhile, a player like Brandon LaFell will come in and play well on the outside. However, others like Chad Ochocinco and Brandon Lloyd before him struggled to make an impact, and Ochocinco had a recently lent a though as to why:

“Great team,” Johnson said. “Really, really, really great team. But not the right system for my type of style of play, or just a predominantly outside receiver in general. Unless your last name is (Randy) Moss.”

Still, a talent like Gordon's does not come around every day, even with his personal demons. If he intends to play, expect the Patriots to be major players.