Josh Gordon

Extra Points: Gronk, Patriots, WRs, Draft

Rob Gronkowski debuted as a FOX analyst Thursday night, but his former job continues to come up. Robert Kraft has yet to give up hope on the future Hall of Fame tight end returning to the Patriots.

We all love Gronk, and I think the bottom line is he hasn’t put his retirement papers in,” Kraft said during an NFL Network appearance (Twitter link). “We can always pray and hope …. That’s a good academic argument that there is hope for us still with Gronk.”

The 30-year-old New England icon has continually denied he wants to come out of retirement but refuses to completely slam the door on a possible 10th season. Gronkowski said during his intro FOX broadcast he will “always keep the door open” for a Pats return. He said in August he was healthy enough to play. The team lost Josh Gordon in the first half of tonight’s game, and although it does not seem like the injury is serious — Gordon is questionable to return — the Pats’ offense is not as well-rounded as it was when Gronk created constant mismatches.

Here is the latest from around the league and the 2020 draft:

  • The Patriots’ high-profile attempt at bringing in a Gronk-level talent ended with Antonio Brown‘s release after 11 days. Brown remains accused of sexual misconduct by two women. The first, Britney Taylor, refiled her civil suit against the unemployed wide receiver in Florida state court, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter). Taylor’s attorneys categorize this as a strategic move and indicated new counsel has joined the case. A league investigation is ongoing as well. No team has been closely connected to the 31-year-old superstar since the Patriots cut him last month.
  • As for elite wideouts still in the league, evaluators shared some interesting views in a piece by The Athletic similar to its quarterback-tiers arrangement. Odell Beckham Jr. and Tyreek Hill join Julio Jones on the top tier here, with NFL personnel viewing DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Thomas as high-second-tier talents (subscription required). Hopkins’ penchant for contested catches prompted one OC to indicate the fear factor surrounding the Texans wideout is not the same as it is when game-planning for Jones or Beckham.
  • Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses is set to miss all of his junior season because of a knee injury, but the might-have-been first-round talent still has NFL supporters should he declare for the 2020 draft. A group of NFL evaluators view Moses as being a second- or third-round prospect in 2020, Mike Rodak of al.com notes. Moses would be one of many Crimson Tide draftees in the 2020 draft, should he declare, with ESPN.com’s Todd McShay ranking six Alabama standouts in his top 30.

Patriots’ Josh Gordon Cleared For Week One

Great news for Patriots fans and nervous fantasy football players – Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon has been cleared to play for Week One by the league office, per an NFL announcement. 

Previously, Gordon received a conditional reinstatement from NFL HQ, granting him permission to play if he satisfied certain terms. Gordon, apparently, has met the requirements, and he has received the green light for the start of the 2019 season.

Gordon appeared in 11 games for the Patriots last year, catching 40 passes for 720 yards and and three touchdowns. Late in the year, he suddenly revealed he was stepping away from the team, and not long after it was announced that he was being slapped with an indefinite ban.

Despite the many hiccups in his career, Gordon continues to hold serious promise. If he stays on the right track, Gordon could be primed for a massive year in New England.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots To Cut WR Maurice Harris

After some initially encouraging signs Maurice Harris would make the Patriots’ 53-man roster, the veteran wide receiver received word he will be released. The Pats are cutting another recent addition, per ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter).

Harris has dealt with a recent leg injury, and the Patriots have seen both Josh Gordon and Demaryius Thomas re-emerge in their plans. Gordon returned to practice on Sunday; Thomas is now off the Pats’ active/PUP list. An injury settlement may well be how this ends, with Harris being limited in recent days.

A former Redskins UDFA out of Cal, the 26-year-old wideout signed a one-year Pats deal for the league minimum. He caught 28 passes for 304 yards last season in Washington, his first campaign with north of 100 receiving yards. But the Pats subsequently added promising UDFA Jakobi Meyers and received word of another Gordon reinstatement. The team also re-signed Phillip Dorsett, making Harris’ roster path more complicated.

The Pats have a much higher-profile receiving corps now than they did to start the offseason, with two Pro Bowlers, a Super Bowl MVP and two first-round picks set to make the team. Harris joins Bruce Ellington and Dontrelle Inman as 2019 UFA wideout additions (Dorsett and N’Keal Harry) the defending Super Bowl champions jettisoned before Week 1.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Release Dontrelle Inman, Place Josh Gordon On NFI List

Dontrelle Inman‘s run with the Patriots will end before the regular season. The Patriots are releasing the veteran wideout, Nick Underhill of The Athletic tweets. The veteran wideout requested this move, and the team will oblige, per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

This move will clear a path for Josh Gordon to make his way back onto New England’s roster. The Pats placed Gordon on their active/NFI list, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Gordon’s return indeed prompted Inman’s agent to seek a release for his client, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).

Inman joins a slew of notable veteran receivers the Patriots have parted ways with over the past two offseasons, following the likes of Kenny Britt, Eric Decker, Jordan Matthews and Bruce Ellington. Inman, 30, has produced fairly consistently when given the opportunity. He caught eight passes for 108 yards in the Colts’ two playoff games last season, and his abbreviated 2018 regular-season work graded well, per Football Outsiders. But the former Chargers auxiliary cog has not been able to stick around anywhere for long since leaving southern California.

Despite arriving in Indianapolis midseason, Inman recorded 28 receptions for 304 yards and three touchdowns. His best season, which featured 810 yards and four TDs, came with the 2016 Chargers. While teams have not viewed him as more than a stopgap, Inman nevertheless profiles as someone who could be an intriguing depth target for another team.

The NFL reinstated Gordon on Friday. The former All-Pro would be eligible for Week 1, once he comes off the Pats’ NFI list by August 31, and would then be in line to again be a key Patriots weapon. Bill Belichick did not commit to Gordon, but the Patriots tendering him as a restricted free agent this offseason provides a fairly clear indicator they are interested in a second Gordon season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Reinstates Josh Gordon

The Patriots just got a huge boost as they look to defend their Super Bowl title. The NFL is reinstating receiver Josh Gordon, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Gordon filed for reinstatement a couple of weeks ago, and it didn’t take too long for Roger Goodell to let him back in. Gordon was indefinitely suspended back in December for multiple violations of the league’s substance abuse policy, but New England made it very clear they weren’t giving up on the talented young wideout. The Patriots tendered him a contract, and video surfaced in June of Gordon working out with Tom Brady.

Gordon isn’t allowed to report to the team until this Sunday and he won’t be able to play in next week’s preseason game, but he won’t have to serve any suspension to start the regular season, a source told Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). The Browns finally threw in the towel on Gordon at the beginning of last season, and the Patriots quickly swooped him up for a fifth-round pick.

He appeared in 11 games for the Patriots last year, catching 40 passes for 720 yards and and three touchdowns. Late in the year he suddenly revealed he was stepping away from the team, and not long after it was announced that he was being slapped with the indefinite ban.

Goodell and the league released an official announcement on the reinstatement, via Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). “We are all rooting for Josh to succeed, both personally and professionally,” Goodell said in a statement. “Everyone shares in that hope and will continue to support him to every extent possible. But as Josh acknowledged, ultimately his success is up to him.”

Gordon has always been supremely talented, but has been plagued by substance abuse issues since entering the league through the Supplemental Draft back in 2012. Assuming he can stay on the field, it’s a huge win for the Pats. There’s been a lot of talk this offseason about New England not having a great group of skill position players in the wake of Rob Gronkowski‘s retirement, and Gordon’s return will do a lot to assuage those concerns.

The Patriots receiving corp will now include Gordon, Julian Edelman, first-round pick N’Keal Harry, and Cameron Meredith and Demaryius Thomas if they can get healthy. Still only 28, Gordon should be only entering the prime of his career. Here’s to hoping he’s in a good place mentally and can make the most of this latest opportunity.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Josh Gordon Applies For Reinstatement

Josh Gordon is looking to get back on the field. Sources tell veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer that the Patriots wideout has filed for reinstatement from suspension (Twitter link).

Back in December, Gordon was suspended indefinitely for violating terms of his reinstatement under the substance abuse policy. We learned at the time that Gordon’s drug use went beyond marijuana, an indication that the troubled receiver was dealing with issues that were much bigger than football. We know that the 28-year-old was at a rehabilitation clinic for at least part of the offseason, and if he’s looking to make an immediate return to the field, we can only assume that he’s clean.

The Patriots retained Gordon‘s rights on via RFA tender earlier this offseason, and the suspended wide receiver was recently spotted training with Tom Brady. While the defending Super Bowl champions would naturally welcome back the talented receiver, he’d have to prove to be a “better version of himself” off the field than what showed up in New England last year.

The Patriots knew the risk associated with the ultra-talented Gordon when they acquired him from the Browns in September. The rest of the league knew the risks involved as well, which is why the Pats were able to land the former All-Pro for a fifth-round pick, with a seventh-round choice coming back. Gordon’s ultimately compiled 40 catches, 720 yards, and three touchdowns across eleven games.

Even after adding Cameron Meredith yesterday, the Patriots could still use some reinforcement at wide receiver. Julian Edelman is dealing with a thumb injury while Demaryius Thomas is working his way back from the PUP list. This leaves the team with a healthy grouping that includes first-rounder N’Keal Harry, former first-rounder Phillip DorsettMaurice HarrisJakobi MeyersBraxton Berrios, and Dontrelle Inman.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Gordon, Colts, Ravens

The Patriots retained Josh Gordon‘s rights on via RFA tender, and the suspended wide receiver was spotted training with Tom Brady fairly recently. This does not mean the Patriots expect to have Gordon back. One of modern NFL history’s most unavailable players, Gordon is not in the Pats’ plans at this point, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com noted during a WEEI radio interview (via NBC Sports Boston). While the defending Super Bowl champions would welcome the 28-year-old talent back if he proved to be a “better version of himself” off the field than what showed up in New England last year, Rapoport adds he isn’t certain Gordon will receive another chance or if the mercurial standout would capitalize on it at this point. The Patriots made several receiver moves this offseason, drafting N’Keal Harry in Round 1 and signing Demaryius Thomas, Dontrelle Inman and Maurice Harris.

As the final offseason weekend (for several teams) progresses, here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Deviating from their long-held ways in free agency, the Packers splurged on a pair of pass rushers this offseason in bringing in Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. The latter Smith was on the Colts‘ radar. Despite holding the most cap space in the league entering free agency, the Colts let the market’s top pass rushers sign elsewhere before agreeing to terms with Chiefs cap casualty Justin Houston. But Chris Ballard targeted Preston Smith at free agency’s outset, Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star notes. Green Bay landed the former Washington edge player for four years and $52MM (just $16MM guaranteed). Houston, 30, nearly matched the 26-year-old’s guarantee figure, with $15.5MM, on his two-year, $23MM accord.
  • Michael Pierce‘s offseason downtrend continued Saturday when the Ravens placed the nose tackle on their active/NFI list. In addition to the contract-year interior lineman starting camp with that designation, the Ravens placed offensive lineman Alex Lewis on their active/PUP list, Jeff Zreibec of The Athletic tweets. Pierce, who skipped Ravens OTAs after not signing his RFA tender until June, was overweight to the point of needing to be yanked from practice at minicamp. Lewis underwent offseason shoulder surgery. Both starters can be removed from these lists and return to practice at any point during camp.
  • Broncos GM John Elway does not have near-future retirement plans, but the ninth-year executive is approaching his career year-by-year at this point.

Patriots Notes: Gordon, Berrios, Wynn

A WR depth chart topped by Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, and Josh Gordon could make Patriots quarterback Tom Brady quite happy, but Gordon’s status obviously remains uncertain. Jim McBride of the Boston Globe writes that it would make sense for Roger Goodell to lift Gordon’s indefinite suspension and reinstate the troubled wideout in time for training camp, especially in light of the commissioner’s statement that he wants to get Gordon back on the playing field. After all, the nurturing environment and structured routine of training camp would theoretically be good for Gordon and may allow him to continue to keep his personal demons at bay.

There have been no reports suggesting that Gordon has actually applied for reinstatement, but there were earlier indications that the NFLPA may begin to “lay groundwork” for his return in May, and that there was a chance he could return by training camp. As of right now, though, Gordon is still in a holding pattern.

Let’s round up several more items from the defending champs:

  • Speaking of wide receivers, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com believes 2018 sixth-rounder Braxton Berrios will crack the 53-man roster and could give the Patriots the type of Danny Amendola-like slot option that Brady loves. On the heels of a strong performance this spring, Berrios, who spent his entire rookie season on IR, has already arrived at the team’s facility well in advance of training camp. His chances of making the team are enhanced by his ability to return punts.
  • Both Reiss and McBride discuss the importance of Isaiah Wynn, who is expected to become the Patriots’ starting left tackle in 2019. Like Berrios, Wynn missed all of his rookie season due to injury, though all reports this year have suggested that he would be ready for training camp. Per McBride, the coaching staff has been pleased with Wynn’s progress in the mental aspect of the game, and Wynn says he physically feels ready to go. However, Reiss says the 2018 first-rounder could still open camp on the PUP list.
  • The Patriots stayed out of the supplemental draft for the 20th year in a row, though Reiss suggests the team could have been intrigued by safety Jalen Thompson (who was the only player to be selected this year). But surrendering a 2020 mid-round selection to add to a position group that already has quite a lot of depth just did not make sense for New England.
  • Gil Brandt of NFL.com examines the best fits for some of the top remaining free agents, and he believes the Patriots would make the perfect landing spot for DE Allen Bailey. New England did meet with Bailey back in March, and the 30-year-old fits the profile of the type of versatile D-lineman that the Pats have a history of signing on the cheap.

AFC Rumors: Gordon, Jets, Steelers, Colts

Tuesday marked a significant day for the Jets, with their new front office power players forming. A day later, more clarity has emerged on how Joe Douglas‘ first staff will look. While the respective roles for Rex Hogan (assistant GM) and Chad Alexander (director of player personnel) became known Tuesday, the Jets announced Phil Savage‘s a day later. The former Browns GM and Ravens player personnel director will serve as a senior football advisor. Savage has not worked on an NFL staff since the 2012 season.

Additionally, the Jets filled some front office positions by promoting holdovers brought in by previous regimes. Eleventh-year Jets staffer Greg Nemjeh will become the team’s new director of pro personnel, and 13th-year Jets staffer Dan Zbojovsky the team’s new director of personnel operations. Kevin Murphy, a Jets pro scout the past two years, will rise to the position of pro scouting director. The team also added Chris Nolan as a college scout. Nolan was an Eagles staffer during Douglas’ Philadelphia stay. Nolan will serve as an area scout, per veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (on Twitter).

Here is what’s going on outside the Big Apple in the AFC Wednesday:

  • A video featuring Tom Brady throwing passes to suspended Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon surfaced Wednesday (Instagram link via Brady), but there is still no telling when or if this duo will be able to do this in a more organized setting again. An NFL spokesman informed The Athletic’s Jeff Howe there has been no movement on Gordon’s status, nor does a timeline exist for a final answer here (Twitter link). Multiple violations of the substance abuse policy have the long-embattled wideout suspended. Gordon, 28, signed his RFA tender — worth $2.025MM — so he would stand to be a Patriot if reinstated.
  • With Justin Houston joining the Colts, Tyquan Lewis looks like he will be changing positions. The Colts have used Lewis at defensive tackle this offseason, Tyler Kraft of the Indianapolis Star notes. The 2018 second-round pick played defensive end as a rookie and at Ohio State. Lewis, who spent much of his rookie season on IR, is at bit small for an inside defender. He’s listed at 6-foot-3, 269 pounds, a similar build to 2018 free agent addition Denico Autry (6-5, 270). The recently re-signed Margus Hunt, however, brings more size at nearly 300 pounds. Houston and Jabaal Sheard stand to reside as the team’s top defensive ends. The Colts also drafted defensive end Kemoko Turay in the 2018 second round.
  • Two years after Alejandro Villanueva‘s situation, the Steelers have another ERFA who has been a regular contributor. Slot cornerback Mike Hilton has been vocal about wanting a long-term deal. He does not have much leverage, but his situation is different from Villanueva’s. The left tackle was late entering the NFL and was 29 when he lobbied for a new contract — what turned out to be a three-year, $24MM deal. Hilton is 25 and could bet on himself by playing for $645K. While he is voicing displeasure now, it doesn’t sound like the former UDFA is too upset with the Steelers. “I want to show the team I want to be here and want to be a part of this organization,” Hilton said, via ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler. “… As players, you feel like of course you want to earn more. Hopefully things work out in the long run, but if not, I’ll do my best to go out there and help this team win.”

Josh Gordon Signs RFA Tender

Patriots WR Josh Gordon has signed his original round RFA tender, as ESPN’s Field Yates tweets. Although Gordon is uncertain to play in 2019, if he does suit up, it will be for the Pats.

The last we heard from Gordon, he was considering applying for reinstatement by the league this spring. Gordon was traded from the Browns to the Patriots last season, and he had some initial success before suddenly stepping away from the team. Shortly thereafter, it was announced that the league was suspending him indefinitely for violating the terms of his previous reinstatement.

Another report also said Gordon could be back by training camp, although that’s obviously far from a guarantee. Gordon has always been ultra-talented, but he hasn’t been able to stay on the field. In 11 games with the Patriots last year, he caught 40 passes fro 720 yards and three touchdowns.

The original round tender will pay Gordon $2.025MM in 2019, assuming he’s able to play.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.