New England Patriots fans have been clamoring for the football gods to give quarterback Tom Brady another weapon in this year’s less-than-ideal receiving corps, and they just might have gotten their answer.
The Cleveland Browns announced Saturday they plan to release talented but troubled receiver Josh Gordon on Monday, but recent reports have stated the Browns are more likely to trade him before that date.
With Gordon on the trading block, the question about the possibility of the Patriots adding him naturally already has arisen.
The 27-year-old’s talent is undeniable, but it’s been more than four seasons since Gordon led the NFL in receiving yards. The Baylor product has battled substance abuse issues for his entire career, and one report Saturday cited a possible “red flag” that he might have relapsed as a reason for the Browns cutting bait with him.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: If Gordon has relapsed, football should be the furthest thing from his or anyone else’s mind.
If Gordon still is clean, however, and his pending release/trade either is a product of a wayward promotional shoot that caused a minor hamstring injury, or his being late to the team’s facility Saturday, then the Patriots absolutely should make a call to Cleveland.
Brady’s weapons currently consist of Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and running back James White. The Pats will get Julian Edelman back for Week 5 after his PED-related suspension is over, but overall, the group doesn’t really move the needle outside of Gronk.
The 41-year-old Brady can make anyone look like an All-Pro receiver, but it’s clear he could use another dynamic weapon in the arsenal. Gronkowski obviously is a monster and Hogan is reliable, but there’s no guarantee Dorsett can become a trusted receiver for Brady and Edelman is one year removed from a torn ACL.
The asking price for Gordon likely will be low, as the Browns already have tipped their hand that they plan to release him. If Gordon’s hamstring and head are right, he could provide a downfield weapon for Brady that would add another dimension to the Patriots’ offense that would make them even more of a headache to defend.
Of course, if the Patriots add Gordon, there’s no shot he will see meaningful playing time.
As has been discussed at length, the Patriots’ offense is complex and takes receivers a while to grasp all of its intricacies, and if you want to be a high-volume target in New England’s offense, you must understand the subtleties of what the Pats want to do.
In 2013, Gordon caught 87 passes for a league-leading 1,649 yards and nine touchdowns. Since then, he’s played in just 11 of 65 possible games, catching 43 balls for 355 yards and two touchdowns.
As stated above, the talent is there. A healthy and locked-in Gordon could be a matchup nightmare on the opposite side of Gronkowski.
There are a lot of factors at play with Gordon. But if the price is right, there’s no reason the Patriots shouldn’t take a flyer on him and try to give Brady the best outside weapon he’s had since Randy Moss.
The risk for the Patriots is too minimal not to take a shot.