He could be back...again
It’s been widely reported that former NFL wide receiver, Josh Gordon, who has been suspended multiple times for for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, has applied to be reinstated by the commissioner once again. On December 16, 2019, Gordon was suspended indefinitely for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs and substance abuse, his fifth suspension for violating the policy.
With significant changes to the drug testing and discipline rules under the new CBA, players who were high risk for teams in the past may now present a much lower risk, as violations of the substance abuse policy are not subject to the same regimen of suspensions that existed under the 2011 labor agreement.
Redskins are listed as a top landing spot for Gordon
A recent article pointed out that it’s unclear whether Gordon will, in fact, return to football this year. In the event he does, however, the article identified five teams that stand out as logical landing spots. The Washington Redskins were on that short-list.
Coach Ron Rivera apparently doesn’t want to stunt young WRs’ growth by adding a veteran, but that stance a.) was taken in response to a query about Antonio Brown, and b.) could easily change once Washington gets to camp and realizes its young guns may have been affected by the disrupted offseason. There’s a reason the team reportedly went all in on to try to land Amari Cooper; they know Dwayne Haskins needs more help at WR.
Scott Turner, the team’s new offensive coordinator, was Gordon’s WRs coach in 2013, when the wideout went off for 1,600 yards in Cleveland. He might vouch for a chance to unearth the talent he saw back then. And if it’s a low-risk deal, like it almost assuredly would be, why not?
He’s not Antonio Brown
Many pundits feel that the Redskins are weak at the wide receiver position. Last month, PFF rated the Redskins dead last in an article that ranked the receiving groups of all 32 teams. Last week, the same author recommended that the Redskins sign Antonio Brown as a cure for their receiving woes.
Brown, who had ample opportunity to demonstrate to the public at large via the Hard Knocks program that he presents a difficult challenge for any franchise, seems to be ‘damaged goods’ whose NFL career is likely over due to his increasingly erratic behavior, whatever its underlying cause may be.
Gordon, on the other hand, may be among a group of players whose careers seemed dead under the drug policy of the 2011 CBA that may be able to resurrect their playing opportunities under the new approach to drug testing under the 2020 agreement. For example, over in Dallas, Aldon Smith has been reinstated after being out of football following a 2015 mid-season suspension that followed a hit-and-run incident, and it has been reported that Randy Gregory has also applied for reinstatement after multiple suspensions.
As the CBS article pointed out, while NFL coaches like Bruce Arians and Ron Rivera don’t see Antonio Brown as a fit for the team or locker room, “Gordon is, by all accounts, a quiet and well-liked teammate.”
A troubled history
Gordon is a talented player who has a history of drug use issues that date back at least to his days as a college player at Baylor University, where he was suspended twice by head coach Art Briles — temporarily in 2010, then indefinitely in 2011 when he tested positive for marijuana.
Drafted by the Browns in the 2012 Supplemental Draft, Gordon recorded 50 catches, 805 yards, and five touchdowns in the 2012 season.
Gordon was suspended for the first two games of the 2013 season, but In just 14 games, he finished with a league leading 1,646 receiving yards, and was named first-team All-Pro.
With multiple suspensions in 2014, Gordon played only five games in the 2014 season and caught 24 passes for 303 yards.
Gordon was suspended for the entire 2015 season due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
The 2016 off-season was a rocky road for Gordon as he tried to come back from suspension. He began the season with a 4 game suspension, and then, before the suspension was complete, Gordon left the Browns to enter an in-patient rehabilitation facility. In a press statement, Gordon wrote, “After careful thought and deep consideration I’ve decided that I need to step away from pursuing my return to the Browns and my football career to enter an in-patient rehabilitation facility. This is the right decision for me and one that I hope will enable me to gain full control of my life and continue on a path to reach my full potential as a person. I appreciate the support of the NFL, NFLPA, the Browns, my teammates, my agent and the community through this extremely challenging process.”
In the end, Gordon missed the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons, and got on the field for only 5 games in 2017, meaning that the troubled wide receiver played only 10 NFL games in the four seasons from 2014 to 2017.
The Browns parted ways with Gordon after Week 1 of the 2018 season; he was traded to the New England Patriots. He played 11 games for Belichick in the ‘18 season. In December, Gordon announced that he would step away from football to focus on his mental health. The NFL later stated that Gordon would be facing an indefinite ban for violating the terms of his conditional reinstatement under the NFL drug policy.
Gordon managed to play the Week 1 game of the 2019 season with the Patriots, but was placed on IR in October and waived injured. He was claimed off waivers by the Seahawks and was on the roster for 5 games before being suspended indefinitely (again) in mid-December.
Talent and potential
It’s kind of shocking that a player as talented as Gordon who entered the league in 2012 was still subject to waivers in 2019 — a fact that starkly highlights how few football games Josh Gordon has managed to play in the NFL.
If he’s reinstated, however, he will be able to choose to sign with any team that is interested in his services, and other destinations may make more sense from his point of view than Washington, but the Redskins could certainly use a player with Gordon’s physical skills.
Josh Gordon is 29 years old, and has averaged 17.2 yards per reception in his 63-game career. His on-field production in 2018 was pretty impressive. If you project his 12-game numbers to a 16-game season, he was on-track for 94 receptions, 982 yards and 5 touchdowns. Prior to his injury last year, he was on-track for 50+ catches and more than 700 yards with the Patriots.
Gordon seems to be healthy. He has been productive throughout his career when he has actually been on the field. Gordon is known to be a hard worker who gets along with his teammates, but has consistently struggled with one problem — marijuana, which under the new CBA is being treated completely differently. IF Gordon is reinstated by Roger Goodell, then he is not likely to face additional suspensions under the current NFL policy on performance-enhancing drugs and substance abuse,
Should the Redskins pursue Gordon if he is granted yet another chance to resume his NFL career? He would likely provide a boost to the Washington offense, but is he the sort of player that Ron Rivera wants to have on the team? The Redskins head coach talked about mistakes and second chances after drafting Saahdiq Charles in April, but perhaps Coach Rivera will see Gordon, who is older and has at least 7 suspensions on his record dating back to 2011, in a completely different light than Charles.
What do you think?
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The Redskins should try to sign Josh Gordon if he is reinstated