Josh Gordon’s Reinstatement A Positive for NFL, Patriots

Josh Gordon

Getty FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 02: Josh Gordon #10 of the New England Patriots reacts after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Gillette Stadium on December 2, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

The situation for New England Patriots‘ suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon gets more mysterious by day. Gordon was suspended indefinitely for yet another substance-abuse violation last December but has worked hard to improve his way of life outside of football.

While Gordon recently filed for reinstatement with the league, there is no sign of the NFL lifting his suspension soon. But the details to which the league and Gordon are working to resolve the issue have been kept a secret from most, including the Patriots.

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New England has pledged to support Gordon in any way as they look to rehabilitate the troubled receiver, though it is unclear if Gordon will be used this season.

What would Gordon’s reinstatement mean for the Patriots and the league?

New England’s Offense Takes on a New Dimension

With Josh Gordon on the field from Week 4 through 15, New England’s offense was a major force. Gordon was the team leader in yards per catch (18.0), snagging 40 passes for 720 yards on 68 targets – leading all Patriots’ outside receivers.

According to Pro Football Focus, Gordon was most effective in a play-action scheme where he amassed 354 receiving yards. Brady’s passer rating skyrocketed to 92.4 on play-action passes with Gordon in the game along with 10.3 average yards per play.

Gordon is one of the most effective Patriots receivers in the Brady era, with the highest yards per attempt (11.3) over the last 14 seasons. Gordon’s receiving grade (92.8) was highest among Patriots receivers and despite little playing time he still led the team with 21 explosive plays, also according to PFF.

With several dual-threat rushers along with a strong slot receiving corps, Gordon could join forces with Demaryius Thomas and N’Keal Harry to form one of the most feared groups in the league.

Gordon Gets Back to Routine

Perhaps what has led to many of Gordon’s recent struggles is his inability to get into a routine. Gordon was suspended in 2014, missed all of 2015 and 2016 due to suspension, and is now facing the same song and dance again.

It’s tough for a player to establish a norm with such a lack of discipline and routine. Though he did deserve his past disciplinary punishments, Gordon seemed to find a comfort zone temporarily in New England and Tom Brady.

If Gordon is reinstated, it would allow him to work back into a daily routine that would allow him to continue improving his daily life. Though Roger Goodell has stated he wants Gordon to focus on improving his mental health and life outside of football, maybe the best cure for that is for Gordon to be on the field.

The League Sets a Precedent on Discipline

The NFL has wavered in its suspensions for similar offenses before. Kareem Hunt was suspended for eight games for violation of the league’s personal conduct policy while Ray Rice only got two games and Tyreek Hill wasn’t suspended at all.

When it comes to drugs, however, the NFL has been extremely inconsistent. Take Justin Blackmon, the banished Jacksonville receiver who is still suspended indefinitely by the NFL (and CFL by extension) for violating the drug policy. It was only his second offense, and yet no mercy from the NFL despite completing the terms of his legal probation and league reinstatement.

In the case of Gordon, he has multiple offenses but the league has shown mercy in allowing the receiver to better himself. If there is any integrity in the NFL, Gordon should be given one final chance as he has already taken strides to become a better person.

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