Josh Gordon

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.

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Parker, Patriots, Gordon, Jets

The Dolphins have a big offseason ahead of them. They’ll have to make a very tough decision about Ryan Tannehill, but they have some other calls to make as well. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald took a look at some of their non-Tannehill related upcoming decisions recently, and wrote that receiver DeVante Parker almost certainly won’t be back at the $9.4MM salary he’s owed next season. He also writes about veteran pass-rusher Cameron Wake, who is set to be a free agent after this season, and notes that “the Dolphins told Wake’s camp early this past offseason that they wanted to extend him but nothing materialized.”

Wake will be turning 37 next month, and has seen his production drop off a bit this year with just 4.5 sacks compared to 10.5 a year ago. Jackson thinks the Dolphins will definitely want Wake back at a cheaper figure than his current $8MM salary, but is unsure whether Wake will be willing to take a dramatic pay-cut. It might be pretty small, but Jackson does “expect a Dolphins offer, at the very least.”

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • The Patriots hosted a few players for workouts today. The team brought in LB Sam Eguavoen, T Ryker Matthews, and WR Tim Wilson, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN (Twitter link). Reiss notes these workouts were likely done with an eye toward 2019 and not this season, as Eguavoen and Matthews currently play in the CFL and aren’t eligible to be signed until after the season. Wilson was in training camp with the Eagles this summer.
  • “The Jets will go hard after Le’Veon Bell in free agency”, predicts Darryl Slater of NJ.com. Bell has been linked to New York a lot recently, and the fit would make sense with the Jets lacking a true number one running back and the fact that the big media market would fit Bell’s brand and personality. Isaiah Crowell was just placed on injured reserve and could very well be cut after this season. Slater also runs down some other potential Jets offseason moves, and thinks the team will be moving on from left guard James Carpenter and running back Bilal Powell. It sounds like it should be an offseason of change for the Jets, who seem almost certain to fire head coach Todd Bowles after the season.
  •  The Patriots should place a first round tender on Josh Gordon this offseason, argues Doug Kyed of NESN.com. Gordon is a restricted free agent after the year, and Kyed thinks that due to Gordon’s lengthy off-field history, no team will be willing to give up the first round pick they’d have to hand over to the Patriots if they wanted to sign him to an offer sheet. The Patriots could always gamble and tender him at a lower level to try to save money, but if they do that some other team could swoop in and sign Gordon to a massive offer sheet.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Bowles, Patriots

Jets coach Todd Bowles was already on the hot seat entering today. Then the Jets were demolished at home by the Bills, and Bowles’ seat got even hotter. Seemingly everyone is assuming Bowles will get fired, and it appears to be just a matter of time before there’s an opening in New York. With that in mind, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY took a look at possible candidates to be his replacement.

The list includes some of the most frequently mentioned candidates like Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, but also includes some under-the-radar names. Washington University coach Chris Peterson is listed, as is Stanford coach David Shaw. One intriguing name he brings up is Michigan and ex-49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, although Vacchiano notes “he’d only be a candidate in New York if GM Mike Maccagnan goes too”, due to Harbaugh’s desire for decision-making power.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Speaking of Bowles, the embattled coach will meet with Jets CEO Christopher Johnson Monday morning, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. Cimini noted that a “lack of energy on the Jets’ bench” was noted by the team’s higher-ups, which doesn’t “bode well” for Bowles. Nothing is certain, but it’s definitely possible Bowles is relieved of his duties this week as the team enters its bye.
  • Patriots receiver Josh Gordon is set to be a restricted free agent after the season, and New England will have several options about what to do. “Giving Gordon a first-round tender makes the most sense for the Patriots”, according to Doug Kyed of NESN.com. If the Patriots place a first round tender on him, any team that signed him to an offer sheet would have to give the Patriots their first round pick if New England let him walk. The Patriots could save some money by attaching a lower tender to him, but then they’d risk having him poached.
  • Speaking of the Patriots, they’ll have a different decision to make in the coming weeks. The team has until Wednesday to activate second round pick Duke Dawson from injured reserve, notes Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Reiss notes that Dawson, a rookie cornerback, has been practicing with the team for a couple of weeks but it’s unclear whether or not New England plans on activating him.

AFC Notes: Gordon, Melvin, Marshall, Bosa

Josh Gordon has run afoul with a new team. The Patriots plan to discipline the oft-embattled wide receiver during tonight’s Bills game, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter), with tardiness at the root of the trade acquisition’s latest issue. New England will play without Gordon for a period of time tonight, around a quarter or “several series,” per Rapoport. Gordon showed up late to the Patriots’ facility on Sunday before the team left for Buffalo, Jeff Howe of The Athletic tweets. After Gordon rides the bench to start the game, Rapoport adds he’ll return to his normal workload tonight. This benching is part of the team’s effort to manage and work with the 27-year-old wideout, one who had rampant trouble in Cleveland on this and other off-field fronts. If Gordon was on a low-tolerance policy with the Patriots, this doesn’t help his cause.

Here’s the latest from the AFC on trade deadline eve:

  • Bruce Irvin and Karl Joseph are believed to be on the trade block during the Raiders‘ rebuild, and, perhaps unsurprisingly based on the way his season’s gone, so is cornerback Rashaan Melvin. The recently signed corner was a healthy scratch against the Colts on Sunday, and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes (video link) Melvin is available for a trade. Melvin signed a one-year, $5.5MM deal but drew Jon Gruden‘s public scrutiny after complaining about his role on the Raiders and the coaching staff’s style earlier this season. Melvin, 29, was a well-regarded Colts starter at this point last season and almost certainly will not be part of the 2019 Raiders.
  • Broncos plans to trade Brandon Marshall, if that was ever the case, look to have hit a snag. The longtime Denver starting linebacker now has a bone bruise in one of his knees and will likely miss time because of it, Denver7’s Troy Renck tweets. Marshall, whose contract makes him far from a lock he’ll be on next year’s Broncos, surfaced in trade rumors over the weekend. One of the handful of Denver starting defenders left over from Super Bowl 50, Marshall has been a full-time starter since 2014. He signed an extension in 2016, but that deal includes a $9MM cap number next year. Rookie Josey Jewell has played well in part-time duty as well, and the Broncos could get an early look at the fifth-round pick as a starter if Marshall is forced to miss time.
  • Joey Bosa could make his season debut on Sunday. At least, the Chargers haven’t ruled it out. Anthony Lynn said it was possible Bosa plays in Week 9, per Eric Williams of ESPN.com. Lynn said Bosa was getting closer. He’s missed seven Bolts games this season because of a bruised left foot, an injury he aggravated before Week 1. Lynn added he’s not ruling Melvin Gordon out, either.
  • The Texans followed through with their scheduled Brice Butler workout on Monday, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. In addition, Houston auditioned quarterback Brogan Roback, cornerback Craig Mager and wide receivers Amba Etta-Tawo and Steven Mitchell.

Patriots Notes: Gordon, Cooks, Gronk

New Patriots wideout Josh Gordon will make his New England debut today, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Gordon was inactive for last week’s loss against the Lions, but the Pats are sorely in need of some playmaking ability at the wide receiver position, and Gordon certainly has the potential to give them exactly that.

Let’s take a quick look at a few more notes out of Foxboro as the Patriots get set to take on the Dolphins in what could surprisingly be a pivotal divisional matchup:

  • Speaking of playmaking wideouts, given the disappointing performance of New England’s receiving corps thus far, plenty are wondering whether the Pats were right to trade Brandin Cooks to the Rams in the offseason. When factoring in what the team netted in its trade to acquire Cooks from the Saints in 2017 and the trade that sent him to LA, Doug Kyed of NESN.com believes the Patriots were right to make the move. The Pats ultimately received a year of Cooks, a 2017 third-round pick, the 2018 No. 23 overall pick, and a 2018 sixth-rounder in exchange for another year of Cooks, a 2017 fourth-round pick, the 2017 No. 32 overall pick, and a 2018 fourth-round pick. That represents good value, especially when considering the Pats would have had to pay Cooks $8.5MM this year and might have received a 2020 compensatory third-rounder if they let him walk in free agency (which they almost certainly would have). Plus, New England could not have predicted the Julian Edeleman suspension, so even though the results might indicate the Cooks trade was a bad one with the benefit of hindsight, Kyed believes the process was right.
  • The Patriots have already put nine players on IR since the start of training camp, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com observes. Reiss points out that the team put just 11 players on IR all of last season, and just four during the 2016 Super Bowl season. Reiss notes that only Rex Burkhead and Duke Dawson are the only two players who could realistically return from IR in 2018.
  • In light of last week’s Rob Gronkowski trade reports, Reiss points out that there had not been much communication between Gronk and the Pats before the star tight end was informed of the potential trade to Detroit. Reiss wonders whether New England really would have pulled the trigger on the deal, or if it simply used the trade as a way to reignite conversations with Gronkowski
  • Reiss also notes that last week’s AFC Defensive Player of the Week, the Bills’ Matt Milano, was drafted by Buffalo with the fifth-rounder it acquired from the Pats when New England signed then-RFA Mike Gillislee. Needless to say, that transaction looks like a big win for the Bills right now.
  • The Patriots cut Gordon’s former Browns teammate, Corey Coleman, from their practice squad yesterday.

East Notes: Flowers, Gordon, V. Davis

The Giants have made the decision to bench embattled right tackle Ereck Flowers, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Rapoport notes that New York has been preparing Chad Wheeler all week, and that Wheeler will start in Flowers’ place.

Of course, Big Blue’s offensive line was a major source of concern this offseason — even though the team handed a hefty free agent contract to former Patriots LT Nate Solder — and Flowers’ track record of underperformance was a big reason for that. But the Giants do not just give up on first-round picks, so they shifted Flowers from left tackle to right tackle and gave him the bulk of the first-team reps. The team, however, is 0-2, and Flowers has not fared any better on the right side of the line than he did on the left. Although Flowers is the only reserve tackle on the roster, which means he will still be active on game days, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes that this move almost guarantees that Flowers will not be back with the team in 2019 (which was largely a foregone conclusion anyway).

Now for more from the league’s east divisions:

  • Although the Browns were certainly upset about the hamstring injury that new Patriots receiver Josh Gordon suffered while filming a promotional video and the circumstances surrounding that video, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com says the real reason for Cleveland’s decision to ship Gordon to New England is that the Browns felt Gordon was still struggling to stay sober and that they had done all they could for him. Plus, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report notes that Gordon missed and/or was late to several team meetings (Twitter link). However, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sport tweets that Gordon has made a strong first impression with Patriots coaches and could make a real contribution for the team against the Lions tonight (although Gordon’s hamstring could prevent him from playing).
  • Former Patriot and current NBC analyst Rodney Harrison (via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com) believes that Gordon will succeed with the Patriots because of the stability and climate that New England can offer. However, if Gordon cannot make it in New England, Harrison thinks that his NFL career is probably over. It is certainly difficult to argue with that assessment.
  • The Bills are expected to go after the majority of Vontae Davis‘ $1.5MM signing bonus, per Rapoport. Buffalo may argue that, since Davis retired mid-game last week, he is entitled to only 1/17, instead of 2/17, of the bonus, and if the team does go that route, Davis may walk away with less than $700K from a 2018 contract that could have paid him up to $5MM. After all, the remainder of his $2.25MM salary voided when he was placed on the reserve/left squad list, and he earned only a small portion of his per-game roster bonuses. Nonetheless, he did earn more than $35MM during his career, so he might not care too much.
  • Some members of the Cowboys‘ front office would like to resume Earl Thomas trade talks, but Dallas is currently seen as a longshot to land the Seahawks’ star safety.
  • We learned earlier today that the Patriots nearly traded Rob Gronkowski  to the Lions this offseason.

49ers Backed Out Of Josh Gordon Chase

Before the Patriots acquired Josh Gordon, the 49ers were among the clubs to contact the Browns about Josh Gordon. Apparently, their interest didn’t last long. Niners GM John Lynch admits that he kicked the tires on the talented wide receiver, but ultimately it wasn’t worth the risk. 

I think in that situation, like any situation, if there’s a chance to improve your team, you always look into it,” Lynch said on KNBR (transcription via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle). “But in certain situations, particularly when you have knowledge of a player, you sit back and you weigh it. Sometimes it’s intriguing. But then, particularly when you have knowledge of someone, the more you look into it: You know what — we’re going to stay away from that.”

Clearly, Gordon’s previous trouble hurt his trade value. The Patriots first agreed to send a fifth-round pick to Cleveland in exchange for Gordon and a conditional seventh-round pick. Then, at the last minute, the Pats convinced the Browns to remove the conditions from the late selection, which essentially knocked the total price down to a sixth-rounder. Had there been comparable proposals elsewhere, one has to imagine the Browns would have pivoted to another team.

The 49ers may or may not regret the decision to pass on Gordon as they gear up for a Week 3 shootout against the Chiefs. Meanwhile, Gordon’s Patriots debut is expected to come on Sunday against the Lions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots, Browns Adjust Josh Gordon Trade

On Wednesday morning, Patriots coach Bill Belichick refused to acknowledge the completion of the Josh Gordon trade, even though it had already been announced by both teams and published on the NFL’s transactions wire. As it turns out, the two sides were still haggling over the exact terms of the trade. 

Initially, the Patriots agreed to send a fifth-round pick to the Browns in exchange for Gordon and a conditional seventh-round pick, with the condition being that the seventh-rounder would be conveyed only if Gordon was not active for ten games. Thanks to some last minute tinkering, the Patriots will receive the seventh-round pick regardless of how many games the wide receiver dresses for, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link).

Reading between the lines, it sounds as though the Browns buckled under the threat that the Patriots would back out of the trade if the conditions of the seventh-round pick weren’t 86’d. That may be an indicator that no other club was willing to best New England’s revised offer.

Now that the trade is officially official, the Patriots will have Gordon available for Sunday’s game against the Lions. They’ll also have an extra seventh-round pick in their arsenal, one that either belongs to the Jaguars or Steelers. It won’t be the Browns’ original seventh-round choice, because that was shipped out to Miami in the Jarvis Landry trade.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.