NFL Reinstates Josh Gordon, Can Return Week 5
Josh Gordon is back! Well… kind of back.
News broke Monday that the NFL reinstated Josh Gordon, and that he'll be able to play after the Browns first four games. Yes, you read that right; Josh Gordon is suspended for the first four games but will be playing again come Week 5 against the Patriots. Well isn't that special? Tom Brady and Gordon get to return at the same time.
So what do you do now? Well, if you drafted already and took Gordon late, you celebrate. As for the rest of you, don't overreact. There are several factors in play here that keep Gordon from being a WR1 or even WR2.
First off, don't forget Gordon will be three years removed from his amazing 87/1,646/9 season. Yes, that came in just 14 games and shows the potential he has, but he didn't perform to well in 2014 with Brian Hoyer at quarterback. Not that Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden are any great shakes, but in 2014, Gordon managed just 24 catches and 303 with no touchdowns in five games. That's a stark contrast from his 2013 campaign when he averaged 22.5 FPPG. It's actually less than half and close to his rookie season at just 10.9 FPPG (10.0 as a rookie).
Second, and in conjunction with the first point, Robert Griffin is at quarterback, and he comes with his own baggage. Is he a capable NFL quarterback at this point? Will he fit Hue Jackson's offense? Will he get Gordon the ball consistently… or even get it to him on target? While Gordon has never seen top notch play at quarterback, it's tough to say Griffin will do better than Hoyer did in 2014.
Lastly, and likely most importantly, we need to wonder, "What is 2016 Josh Gordon like?" Optimists will hope he's at least 90 percent of that receiver we saw in 2013, but he played just five games in 2014 and none last year. We saw how a full year off affected Dorial Green-Beckham, as he struggled with being in game shape, getting back to full speed and knowing the playbook. Will Gordon have the same struggles? It's a more than fair question. In fact, do we even know if Gordon is in shape?
The good news is that Gordon can participate in training camp, so we should have a good idea or answer to many of the Gordon-related concerns. Nevertheless, Gordon has several obstacles to overcome, some not in his control and some that are, namely and most importantly keeping himself clean. As long as Gordon can do that and get anywhere near to his former self NFL wise, he's well worth a 7-8th round pick as a WR3. Depending on your league and comfort with risk, you may have to jump in sooner. I would recommend not doing so until we at least see him on the field, but if you want to beat everyone to the punch because you believe in Gordon, you can't wait too long.
Photo Credit: Aaron Josefczyk/Icon Sportswire
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