The New England Patriots’ receiver picture would be a lot clearer if there was any certainty surrounding their biggest and most physically gifted wideout. But wide receiver Josh Gordon remains suspended and isn’t even listed on the Patriots’ roster at this time.
The Patriots extended an original-round tender to Gordon prior to the March 13 deadline which the receiver has yet to sign, and he won’t officially be on the Patriots until he signs that tender. Though it’s extremely doubtful, another team could extend an offer sheet to Gordon. If the Patriots declined to match that offer sheet, the other team would be forced to give up a third-round pick as compensation for Gordon.
Gordon has played just one full season — his rookie year — since entering the league in 2012. He’s been suspended for at least two games in every season since 2012 for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, a consistent problem stemming from mental health issues. He missed the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons because of suspensions.
Gordon lasted 12 games, 11 of which came with the Patriots, in 2018. He caught 41 passes for 737 yards with four touchdowns.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked Tuesday at the NFL Annual Meeting if Gordon is in the team’s plans for 2019.
“Yeah, I don’t know,” Belichick said. “His status isn’t under our control.”
It would be unwise for the Patriots to bank on any production out of Gordon this season. There’s no word on when or if he’ll be reinstated by the NFL, and the Patriots would have no idea how long the receiver would last if allowed to suit up.
The Patriots’ wide receiver situation is an ugly one, however. Their depth chart currently consists of Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, Matthew Slater, Braxton Berrios, Damoun Patterson and newcomers Bruce Ellington and Maurice Harris.
It makes sense why optimistic Patriots fans have high hopes for Gordon. Of course, a healthy, clean and mentally sound Gordon would solve many problems. But anything the receiver provides his team should be considered gravy. That’s why it’s paramount that New England continues to add receiving weapons, especially after tight end Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement Sunday.
There’s still plenty of time for New England to fill its biggest remaining need before the season starts in September. As Belichick said Tuesday, “It’s March.”