Yesterday, Josh Gordon applied for reinstatement to the NFL after his lengthy suspension from the NFL for multiple violations of the substance abuse policy — in colloquial terms, the dude consistently had more smoke in his lungs than Wiz Khalifa in a chimney. Gordon was a tremendous talent in 2013, amassing 1646 yards in just 14 games. Gordon is under contract with the Browns for the 2016 season
Hue Jackson recently signed on as the Cleveland head coach, and Jackson reportedly didn’t want Johnny Manziel on the team if he were to agree to come to Cleveland. What that says to me is that Jackson wants to go Todd Bowles on the Browns, which is to make sure that the team is the exact opposite of the circus that they were under the previous regime. That’s the smart call, but it means that Jackson might have to make tough decisions that another team wouldn’t have to make.
That’s where Gordon comes in. Even though Gordon is a much better talent than Manziel and has only shown one consistent issue that he needs to knock out whereas Manziel has about 17, it’ll be hard to preach that the team organization has turned a corner if a guy like Gordon returns. If I were Jackson, I’d let Gordon ride the season out and hopefully restore his value, and then you have a diamond in the rough in the form of an amazing wide receiver. If Jackson still doesn’t trust Gordon enough for the organization to give him a long term contract, then they could pull a Pats/Matt Cassel and franchise and then trade him.
However, my guess is that Jackson wants to move on from the troubled wide receiver. And the Patriots should be first in line among the suitors. There are a few bulletpoints of criteria that a team needs to take on Gordon. First, they have to have a strong locker room with an unwavering sense of professionalism. (That eliminates the Dolphins right off the bat.) Second, they need to have a reputation for not bowing down to a player when the player and team butt heads, and the Pats fit that profile perfectly. Third, they need to have a great chance of getting good bang for their buck, because the Browns won’t offer up Gordon for just peanuts on the dollar. If they trade him, they’ll hold out for a high price, because, after all, he does have incredible potential.
If Gordon gets his act together, there is no chance in hell that the Pats won’t get a good return on their investment. The Raiders traded a 30 year old Randy Moss for a 4th round pick, and while he was a headcase, he wasn’t coming off a year long suspension, and he had more than just a single season of elite production on his resume. Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that the Pats would have to trade a 4th rounder for Gordon as well. If the Pats traded a 4th rounder and Gordon was a good soldier for 2016, the Pats could re-sign Gordon and have a long term threat at WR, although that’s highly unlikely because Gordon would command a ton of money and the Pats will see a lot of their rookie contracts expire after next season. They could also pull the Matt Cassel and franchise and trade Gordon. Most likely, however, is that the Pats would simply let Gordon go and get a 3rd or 4th round pick in compensation for his departure. Such a move would be another example of Bill Belichick’s genius, similar to how he maneuvered the year that Darrelle Revis was in New England. Trade a 4th round pick, get Brady the best downfield target he’s had since Moss, and then get a 4th rounder back once he leaves.
If Belichick can trade a pair of 5th rounders for Chad Ochocinco and another 5th rounder for Albert Haynesworth, then they can take a shot on Josh Gordon, a guy who isn’t over the hill of his athletic prime and still has way more potential. There’s no other team who could afford the risk and reap the benefits as well as the Pats could, and we should all hope for the reincarnation of the Patriots trading for Randy Moss.