The New England Patriots took a small risk when trading a fifth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for wide receiver Josh Gordon. But even while making the deal, the team, of course, knew that there was the possibility of Gordon stepping away at any time. That proved to be true on Thursday, as the receiver revealed he has left the team in order to address his mental health.
Beyond that, it seems the Patriots even made decisions around the NFL trade deadline potentially focused on the idea that Gordon could wind up not playing the entire season.
Patriots’ Concern Over Josh Gordon for Full Season
The above report isn’t the only one citing that the Patriots were attempting to prepare for this situation. As The Athletic’s Jeff Howe detailed, they even attempted to acquire Demaryius Thomas via trade and also turned away interest in wideout Phillip Dorsett at the deadline.
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Gordon revealed the news in the following statement on Twitter:
According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, Gordon is facing an indefinite suspension by the NFL for "violating terms of his reinstatement under the substance abuse policy." ESPN's Adam Schefter added: "Final punishment yet to be decided, but Gordon not expected to play again this season or maybe ever again."
In 11 games with the Pats this season, Gordon caught 40 passes for 720 yards and three touchdowns. He also made one grab for 17 yards and a touchdown in his only game with the Browns this season.
Gordon did not play at all in 2015 or 2016 due to multiple violations of the NFL substance abuse policy, but he did return to the Browns to appear in five games last season.
The 2013 Pro Bowler has officially been suspended on four different occasions for substance abuse issues, including a 10-game ban in 2014 and a 16-game suspension in 2015.
Gordon missed the start of training camp this season to receive counseling and treatment.
The former Utah and Baylor standout is among the NFL's most talented and productive wideouts. In 2013, Gordon led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards, scored nine touchdowns and was named a first-team All-Pro.
Gordon's departure comes at a trying time for the Patriots, who have lost two games in a row and are third in the AFC at 9-5. If the season ended today, New England would not have a first-round playoff bye for the first time since the 2009 campaign.
Without Gordon, quarterback Tom Brady figures to focus primarily on slot receiver Julian Edelman, tight end Rob Gronkowski and running back James White in the passing game. Receivers Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson also figure to have a bigger role down the stretch.