Shannon Sharpe isn’t ready to book the New England Patriots’ trip to Super Bowl LIV based solely on Josh Gordon’s return.
While Sharpe acknowledged Monday on FS1’s “Undisputed” that Gordon will help New England’s offense, which must overcome the loss of recently retired Rob Gronkowski in 2019, the former NFL tight end-turned-talking head also made clear he’s tempering his expectations.
Gordon, who was conditionally reinstated last week after serving an indefinite suspension related to a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, has missed significant time throughout his career, and Sharpe thus is skeptical about the 28-year-old wide receiver’s ceiling upon rejoining the Patriots.
“Josh Gordon is not the same receiver that he was in Cleveland,” Sharpe said. “You can’t keep missing a year, a year and a half, two years — being suspended eight games, five games, 10 games. Eventually that catches up with you.
“Will he help? I think he gives Tom (Brady) a big target to throw the ball to. He doesn’t have to be perfect because he has a huge catch radius. But I don’t know what the guy’s going to have. At some point in time, in the NFL — the NFL doesn’t want to seem harsh, because dealing with these issues now, it seems to be employers have a better understanding and they want to be as empathetic as they possibly can. But at the end of the day, as Bill Belichick said, this is Josh Gordon’s situation. And until he figures it out… ”
Gordon, acquired from the Cleveland Browns last September, seemed to earn Brady’s trust en route to catching 40 passes for 720 yards with three touchdowns in 11 games with New England in 2018. He was forced to step away from the team in December, though, once again casting doubt over his NFL future.
Gordon has been suspended multiple times in his NFL career, battling both substance abuse and mental health problems, and there’s obviously no telling whether he’ll be able to stay on the right track, let alone contribute at a level that even remotely resembles his 2016 All-Pro campaign with Cleveland.
That said, the Patriots are welcoming Gordon back with open arms in the hopes he’ll produce and, more importantly, remain on the straight and narrow. His success (or lack thereof) could play a huge role in shaping New England’s offensive attack as the season progresses.
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