Josh Gordon

Patriots Tender Josh Gordon, Jonathan Jones

The Patriots have tendered receiver Josh Gordon a contract at the original round level, a source told Ben Volin of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). In a separate tweet, Volin reports the team has placed a tender at the second round level on cornerback Jonathan Jones.

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 had some initial success before suddenly stepping away from the team. Shortly after, 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 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 pay. Since he’s a former second round pick, the Patriots will get a second round pick in return if some other team decided to sign Gordon, which is very unlikely given the price.

A team would also now have to give up a second round pick to sign Jones, which more or less ensures Jones will be back in New England next year. An undrafted free agent from Auburn back in 2016, Jones will make $3.095MM net year. Jones started five games last year and played around half of the team’s defensive snaps, while also contributing on special teams.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Notes: Gordon, Gronk, Slater, Jones

The Patriots will end up getting a 2019 seventh-round pick out of the Josh Gordon trade, per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. It was initially reported that New England sent a fifth-round pick to Cleveland in exchange for Gordon, and that a seventh-rounder would be coming back to the Pats if Gordon was unable to play 10 games with the club in 2018. Although Gordon ended up playing 11 games for New England before being suspended again, Reiss says the 10-game condition was lifted and that the Patriots will get the 29th pick in the seventh round.

Now for more news and notes from the Super Bowl champs:

  • Tight end Rob Gronkowski has been at Gillette Stadium multiple times over the last couple of weeks, and while he may only be there to continue treatment on his thigh, Reiss believes Gronk’s presence is reflective of the good relationship between him and the team at the moment and of Gronkowski’s overall positive feelings towards the Patriots. Although he may still retire, his current state of mind is good news for Pats fans who would like to see him back in 2019.
  • Matthew Slater is due a $400K roster bonus on March 13, and assuming he is still on the roster at that point, the team’s 2019 option — which calls for a $1.6MM base salary — will be automatically exercised. Reiss believes that is a reasonable price for a special teams ace like Slater, and that the 33-year-old will be back in Foxborough next season.
  • Reiss also believes tight end Dwayne Allen could be back, as the team admires his professionalism and work ethic, but he will obviously need to accept a pay cut; he is due a $6.4MM base salary in 2019.
  • Cornerback Jonathan Jones proved his value to the Patriots in this year’s playoffs, and he is eligible for restricted free agency in March. As Reiss observes, the Patriots could tender him at the second-round level, which would entitle him to a salary of $3.1MM, or at the low level, which calls for a $2MM salary. But if they go with the latter option, they risk losing Jones without getting any draft compensation in return, so Reiss suggests that the two sides could explore a long-term deal before free agency opens.
  • Zack Cox of NESN.com believes LT Trent Brown will get a contract on the free agent market that the Patriots cannot compete with, and that the team will need to turn to 2018 first-rounder Isaiah Wynn to replace him. Wynn, of course, missed his entire rookie campaign due to a torn Achilles he suffered last preseason.
  • Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels received only tepid interest on the head coaching market this year, but Ben Volin of the Boston Globe says McDaniels’ excellent work in engineering the Patriots’ Super Bowl run will put him firmly back on the HC radar in 2020.
  • The Patriots have once again surfaced as a potential home for Colin Kaepernick.

AFC Rumors: Brown, Crowell, Pats, Broncos

Although Joe Flacco interrupted Antonio Brown‘s run as the NFL news cycle’s offseason centerpiece, the Steelers‘ drama with their superstar wide receiver remains the league’s top storyline. After Brown’s trade request, NFL executives believe there may be a significant gap between what the Steelers want to part ways with Brown (and take on a sizable dead-money chunk) and what other teams will pay. One NFL GM believes Pittsburgh, regardless of Brown’s age (31 in July) and off-field trouble, will still want a first-rounder, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes. Two other high-ranking execs said, via Fowler, Brown could fetch a Day 2 draft choice, while another predicted a fourth-round pick. Collecting a third- or fourth-round pick for a four-time All-Pro, while taking on more than $20MM in dead money, would be an incredible pill for the Steelers to swallow.

One team that may want Brown may not be able to acquire him, with Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweeting the Steelers will not trade him to the Patriots in addition to having a predictable stance on an intra-AFC North trade.

Free agency is less than a month away, but teams are making moves in preparation. Here is the latest on this front, along with other AFC news:

  • Already pushing $100MM in cap space, the Jets may move closer to triple digits soon. They plan to release Isaiah Crowell once they agree to terms with a veteran running back, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News notes. Such a release would clear $3MM off New York’s cap. The Jets have been the team most linked to preparing for a Le’Veon Bell run, and Mehta adds Tevin Coleman would be a nice consolation prize. While Crowell signed a three-year, $12MM deal, the Jets would only be on the hook for the remaining $2MM of his signing bonus.
  • With several free agents at wide receiver, the Patriots‘ pass-catching corps is likely to look considerably different next season. However, if Josh Gordon is somehow reinstated, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe expects the RFA to be back in New England (Twitter link). But the Patriots obviously cannot count on that happening. Additionally, the Patriots are not, in fact, paying for Gordon’s rehab. The NFLPA is doing so, Volin adds.
  • Under Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens have been known to prioritize compensatory picks. They may be ready to collect another prime end-of-round draft choice this year. Za’Darius Smith‘s free agency buzz reminds The Athletic’s Jeff Zreibec of what followed Pernell McPhee four years ago as he readied for the market. McPhee left for a big Bears offer. A contract-year wonder, Smith looks headed elsewhere, too, per Zreibec (subscription required), with the Ravens prioritizing four-time Pro Bowler C.J. Mosley and possible skill-position enhancements. Baltimore is about to lose $16MM via its Flacco trade, and it presently holds just $21MM in cap space. So adjustments will need to occur if these roster-bolstering hopes are to be realized.
  • Brandon Marshall is open to restructuring his contract to stay with the Broncos, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic notes (subscription required), but Denver may be set to move on after a six-season partnership. The Broncos re-signed Todd Davis last year and like 2018 fourth-round pick Josey Jewell, who started several games for an injured Marshall last season and would be a cheaper alternative. Denver would save $5MM by releasing Marshall while also being tagged with $4MM in cap charges. A Super Bowl 50 starter, Marshall played all 16 games in 2017 but missed five in both 2016 and ’18.

Josh Gordon, Martavis Bryant May Apply For Reinstatement By May

Suspended NFL wideouts Josh Gordon and Martavis Bryant may be able to apply for reinstatement by May, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Both Gordon and Bryant are suspended — not banished — from the NFL, which, as Pelissero note,s in an important distinction given that banishment would have lead to a one-year minimum absence from the league. However, both pass-catchers’ suspensions are indefinite in nature, so there’s no clear timeframe on when they can attempt to re-enter the NFL.

Nevertheless, if both Gordon and Bryant execute their treatment plans in accordance with the league’s wishes, the NFLPA may begin to “lay groundwork” for returns in May, per Pelissero. Such a plan could could potentially put both players back on the field by training camp, something Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported — at least, in the case of Gordon — on Wednesday.

Gordon, whom the Patriots acquired at midseason from the Browns, is scheduled to become a restricted free agent next month, so New England will soon need to decide at what level it will tender the 27-year-old. Bryant, meanwhile, was traded from the Steelers to the Raiders during the draft, but was subsequently cut and re-signed in September. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in March, but clearly shouldn’t be expected to find a new team until later this summer, at the least.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Pats, Gordon, Chung, Fins

Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon could return to the field by training camp, although that’s far from a certainty, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Gordon was banned indefinitely from the NFL in December after violating the terms of his conditional reinstatement under the league’s substance abuse policy and is still in a rehabilitation facility. While it’s unclear when Gordon will leave rehab, it could be in the near future, at which point he plans to train in Florida. New England is supporting Gordon and paying for his treatment, so a return to the club is certainly possible. From a contractual standpoint, Gordon will be a restricted free agent this offseason.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • After suffering a broken forearm in the Super Bowl, Patriots defensive back Patrick Chung will undergo corrective surgery on Thursday, a source tells Jeff Howe of The Athletic (Twitter link). Chung will have another operation in roughly three weeks to fix a shoulder issue, per Howe. That latter surgery will likely keep Chung out of organized team activities, although he’s expected to be ready for training camp. The 31-year-old Chung appeared in 15 games for New England last year, playing on roughly 85% of the club’s defensive snaps. Pro Football Focus graded Chung — who’s under contract through 2020 — as the NFL’s No. 30 safety.
  • Josh McDaniels received a new contract from the Patriots after spurning the Colts last offseason, and Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com reports McDaniels is being paid roughly $4MM per year. While coordinator and head coach salaries are often difficult to unearth, it’s hard to imagine any other coordinator in the NFL is collecting $4MM annually. After turning down the Colts in 2018, McDaniels has reportedly become even more selective regarding his head coaching prospects. This year, he only took one interview (with the Packers) and rejected a request from the Bengals.
  • As part of a contract extension he signed last summer, Dolphins cornerback Bobby McCain had $3.018MM of his $5.475MM 2019 base salary fully guaranteed this week, tweets Joel Corry of CBSSports.com. McCain, 25, inked a four-year deal in July that guaranteed him nearly $10MM. With an average annual value of $6.75MM, McCain is one of the NFL’s highest-paid slot corners.
  • Former NFL wide receiver Tiquan Underwood is joining the Dolphins‘ staff as an offensive quality control coach, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The ex-Rutgers speedster spent time with the Patriots in 2011 and 2012, which is where he first met new Miami coaches Brian Flores and Chad O’Shea.

Extra Points: Dolphins, Flores, Grier, Ross, WR’s, Josh Gordon

While Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has played a large role in hiring Miami’s coaches in the past, that wasn’t the case this time around. Ross identified and hired Adam Gase on his own, but had nothing to do with bringing in new coach-in-waiting Brian Flores, sources told Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald. Instead, it was new GM Chris Grier who is solely responsible for hiring Flores, Salguero writes.

Salguero writes that Grier and Flores are longtime friends, and that now ex-Dolphins coaches told him it was “no secret within the organization that Grier was focused on Flores as the favorite to be Miami’s new coach even before interviews began.” Flores, the current Patriots’ defensive play-caller, and Grier both started as scouts in their respective organizations and Salguero writes that their paths crossed frequently, sparking a friendship. Miami is reportedly all-in on tanking in the 2019 season, and it’ll be very interesting to see how Flores fares.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • While the contract Odell Beckham Jr. signed this offseason “became the new financial benchmark for wide receivers”, it “didn’t dramatically reset the market as some, including myself, anticipated”, opines former NFL agent and current CBS Sports analyst Joel Corry. In his piece, which is worth a read, Corry breaks down this offseason’s wide receiver market, and he thinks 2019 will be the year the market is truly reset. Corry writes that Julio Jones, Tyreek Hill, and Amari Cooper will likely all land new deals this offseason.
  • Speaking of wide receivers, commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about Josh Gordon during his annual Super Bowl press conference. Goodell said ““right now the focus is what can we do to help Josh (Gordon) to get to that place (where he can play football)”, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Goodell’s comments suggest that Gordon, who stepped away from the Patriots earlier this season, could eventually play in the league again even though Goodell slapped him with an indefinite ban. It won’t come easily, but it appears Gordon’s NFL career isn’t dead yet, just on life support.
  • In case you missed it, Goodell also had updates on two more embattled players, Kareem Hunt and Reuben Foster.

Patriots Rumors: Gordon, McDaniels, Gronk

Here’s a look at the Patriots as they get set for the Super Bowl:

  • The Patriots are gearing up for the Super Bowl in Atlanta, but Josh Gordon is miles away at an inpatient facility in Florida, a source tells Doug Kyed of NESN.com. The Patriots are paying for Gordon’s treatment, which may be a sign that a return is possible. For what it’s worth, the receiver will get a ring if the Pats are victorious on Sunday.
  • Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels says he regrets his handling of the Colts situation last year, as Charean Williams of PFT writes. “It’s a lot that goes into it,” McDaniels said. “I think at the end of the day you have to make the best decision for yourself and your family. I’ve said this a number of times: The timing of all that stuff was not. . . . I wasn’t proud of any of that stuff.” McDaniels likely paid the price for his flip-flop in this past cycle. There were eight head coaching vacancies, but McDaniels only landed an interview with the Packers and declined to speak with the Bengals.
  • The Rob Gronkowski retirement chatter is picking up steam again, but the tight end pretty much offered a no-answer when asked if the Super Bowl will be his last game. “I don’t know,” Gronkowski said when asked about his plans (via PFT).

Josh Gordon Violated Drug Policy Multiple Times

Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon was recently hit with an indefinite suspension, and Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) reports that the suspension stemmed from multiple violations of the league’s substance abuse policy and was not based upon just one failed test. Further, Rapoport says that Gordon’s drug use was not limited to marijuana, so he obviously has bigger concerns than football at the moment.

However, because the ban is indefinite and does not carry a minimum number of games, it is possible that Gordon could return for the start of the 2019 season, as Rapoport notes. But the odds of that seem quite long, as Gordon would have to prove to the league that he can remain clean for a sustained period of time.

Gordon was enjoying a productive stint with the Patriots, having posted 720 yards and three scores in 11 games with the team. There was even chatter that New England should use a first-round tender on Gordon at season’s end to prevent another club from poaching him, and a league source tells Ben Volin of the Boston Globe that Gordon and quarterback Tom Brady were developing a genuine bond.

Volin also notes that the Patriots did everything they could to support Gordon: they threw him a cookout shortly after he was traded to the team in September, receivers coach Chad O’Shea and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels took him under their wing and did their best to keep him occupied, and character development coach and pastor Jack Easterby made Gordon his No. 1 project.

Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that the Patriots also assigned people to be with Gordon at all times so that he could avoid temptation, but that proved to be unsuccessful. Schefter suggests that Gordon “eluded” the team’s security network during the November 18 bye weekend, but as Rapoport stated, Gordon violated the league’s drug policy multiple times. Even league commissioner Roger Goodell tried to help Gordon instead of simply banishing him, but Gordon has not been able to shake his demons despite all of the safeguards designed to protect him.

The Patriots, though, have not given up on the troubled talent. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports also hears that Gordon was a well-liked member of the Patriots and a good teammate, and the club — which apparently had no idea a suspension was coming — hopes to continue supporting him regardless of whether he ever plays another snap.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Reactions To Josh Gordon Suspension

With news of yet another suspension sidelining Josh Gordon, the mercurial wide receiver’s on-field work with the Patriots likely will end up concluding with the team’s Week 15 loss to the Steelers. Here are some reactions to the news of Gordon’s ban.

  • The Patriots’ decision to trade for him as a possible quick-fix option was naive, NBC Sports’ Peter King said during a WEEI radio interview (via NESN.com). Citing the Patriots’ failure to properly address their skill positions this offseason, King scrutinizes the organization for bringing in a player with Gordon’s immense baggage — and doing so just after yet another incident in Cleveland prompted the Browns to engage in serious trade talks. New England traded Brandin Cooks and cut a slew of wideouts — Kenny Britt, Malcolm Mitchell, Eric Decker and Jordan Matthews — before acquiring Gordon. Although Gordon’s 720 yards are the second-most in NFL history by a wideout playing on a different team than he did when a season started, behind only Wes Chandler‘s 857 for the 1981 Chargers, the Pats are again shorthanded at wideout.
  • New England’s attempt to acquire Demaryius Thomas from the Broncos stemmed from its concern about Gordon, per Jeff Howe of The Athletic (subscription required). The Patriots also protected seldom-used wideout Phillip Dorsett before the deadline, with Howe noting the team rebuffed at least one trade inquiry regarding the former first-round pick. Minimized by Gordon’s arrival, Dorsett has not caught a pass since Week 12. He’ll surely be called upon more now.
  • Cordarrelle Patterson has repeatedly failed to live up to expectations that come with being a first-round wideout, despite his immense talent as a kick returner, and Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston notes the Patriots have been hesitant to put too much on Patterson’s plate as a receiver. But they now may have to turn to him more in that area, Curran adds. New England still has Dorsett and Chris Hogan as Julian Edelman complements, but with Edelman and Rob Gronkowski not quite on their former levels, Gordon’s exit will damage the Patriots’ passing game. Patterson has 20 receptions for 244 yards and three touchdowns as a Patriot.

Patriots’ Josh Gordon Banned Indefinitely

Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon has been suspended indefinitely for violating terms of his reinstatement under the substance abuse policy, as first reported by Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). On Thursday afternoon, the NFL made it official via press release.

The impending ban explains why Gordon took to Twitter on Thursday morning to announce that he’s stepping away from the game to address his mental health. 

I take my mental health very seriously. At this point, to ensure I remain able to perform at the highest level, [I am taking time away from football],” Gordon wrote on social media. “I have recently felt like I could have a better grasp on things mentally. With that said, i will be stepping away from the football field for a bit to focus on my mental health. I would like to thank Coach Belichick, Mr. Kraft, as well as countless others within the Patriots organization for their continued support. I want to thank my fans for their support as well as I continue down the path getting back to 100%

Gordon remained in Stage 3 of the substance abuse policy even after reinstatement, so this is a truly indefinite ban with no one-year minimum, as is often the case with other lengthy suspensions. There is no timeline for Gordon’s return and no guarantee that he’ll be cleared to play for the 2020 season.

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 season with the Patriots – which may prove to be his last – ends with 40 catches, 720 yards, and three touchdowns across eleven games.

The Patriots are just two weeks away from the playoffs and are working to clinch a first-round bye. Losing Gordon stings, but they still have plenty of pass-catching weapons including Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, and James White. Gordon, and the every-down threat he provides, will be missed, but it’s hardly a death sentence for one of the league’s strongest teams.

We support Josh Gordon in his continued efforts to focus on his health,” the Patriots said in a statement. “His attempt to do so is a private and personal matter, which we intend to respect.”

Gordon has a long history substance abuse issues and has been suspended multiple times by the league office. His last ban, also of the indefinite variety, was lifted under the condition that he would stay sober. It’ll be a long road back for Gordon should he try to play in the NFL again.

Gordon was hit with a ten-game suspension in 2014 and missed all of the 2015 and 2016 seasons due to substance-abuse trouble. After that, he did not suit up for the Browns again until December 2017 when he was reinstated. Gordon also missed Browns training camp this past year, reportedly checking himself into a rehab facility in fear of another substance-abuse relapse. He has also admitted to playing under the influence since high school, so his issues with drugs go back at least a decade.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.