The New England Patriots had a talent issue on offense, and they filled it with one of the most gifted — and troubled — wide receivers in the NFL.
The Patriots traded a conditional 2019 fifth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for Josh Gordon. If Gordon doesn’t suit up in 10 games, then the Browns will owe the Patriots a 2019 seventh-round pick.
And why not pull off the deal if the Browns are willing to ship off Gordon? Talented players are available in the fifth-round, but you’re not going to come close to getting a guy with Gordon’s skill set. The Patriots don’t have a wide receiver with Gordon’s raw talent level and upside, which was highlighted Sunday when they lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-20 in Week 2.
Gordon is 6-foot-3, 225 pounds and caught 87 passes for 1,646 yards with nine touchdowns in 2013. That was a very, very long time ago, but he showed glimpses in 2017 when he caught 18 passes for 335 yards with one touchdown in just five games. He caught one 17-yard pass for a touchdown in his only game this season.
Gordon comes with plenty of baggage. He missed two entire seasons and parts of two more with countless suspensions for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Mental health issues kept him out of most of training camp this summer with the Browns. Their final straw was Gordon injuring his hamstring during a non-team promotional shoot, forcing him out of Week 2.
Gordon also was suspended at Baylor multiple times for violating their drug policy.
Gordon’s issues are rooted much deeper than any troubled player Patriots head coach Bill Belichick previously has brought in. Comparing Gordon to Randy Moss, LeGarrette Blount, Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco and Corey Dillon wouldn’t be fair to Gordon or any of those players.
But a change of scenery could be helpful for Gordon and new players always are amazed by how strict and business-like Gillette Stadium is compared to other teams’ facilities. From watching “Hard Knocks” this summer, the Browns are run nothing like the Patriots.
It’s entirely possible Gordon doesn’t work out for the Patriots. Considering their recent track record of acquiring receivers, like Kenny Britt, Eric Decker, Jordan Matthews, Amara Darboh, Corey Coleman, Chad Hansen and Bennie Fowler, it’s probably more likely Gordon doesn’t pan out.
But when, or if, Gordon takes the field for the Patriots, the opposing team will take notice. And they’ll take him much more seriously than if Cordarrelle Patterson, Matthew Slater or even Chris Hogan or Phillip Dorsett are lined up in the “X” receiver role.
Gordon coming to the Patriots has seemed inevitable ever since he joined the Browns in 2012. Six years later, it’s finally happening. Maybe this is where it all comes together for the big wideout. And if not, moving from the fifth round to seventh isn’t a steep price to pay.
Thumbnail photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports Images