All offseason I defended Josh Gordon and I said he is still worth a buy. Week 1 showed he is worth a buy with his touchdown to tie the game for the Browns against the Steelers. For me, though there is more of a personal reason behind my continued belief Gordon’s best days are ahead.
Let's get a bit personal here to start: My mother is a drug addict and an alcoholic, and I have experienced the highs and lows of her life; it's been a roller coaster. The same can be said for Josh Gordon. he has relapsed and had the wrong people around him in the past, but one thing I have learned from my mom is a strong, stable, and consistent environment is what people in recovery need. If there is one team in the NFL which fits the mold, it's the New England Patriots.
They have a history of taking in high profile players at the end of there careers or getting them in for cheap when their career seemed to falter. They have had players such as Danny Amendola, Brandon Lloyd, and Torry Holt. Some found the fire within again, while others had their flame blown out by the slightest breeze. The two most critical for this conversation are the Hall of Famer Randy Moss and Hall of Fame showman Chad Johnson. Both players came to New England at critical points in their careers and both had very different careers with the Patriots. Both will serve as points of focus of how things can shape up for Josh Gordon.
Best Case Scenario: Randy Moss
Randy Moss was acquired by New England for a fourth round pick back in 2007. Moss was coming off a very disappointing stint with the Oakland Raiders, where in two years he had only had 102 receptions for 1,558 yards and 11 touchdowns. In his first year with the Patriots Moss went cray cray - as the kids say - and went off for 98 receptions for 1,493 yards and an NFL record 23 touchdowns. Moss thrived in their system during his tenure with the team. While Gordon is not a Hall of Fame player, he has a very similar play style to Moss. Gordon is best utilized as a deep threat as shown when he was on the field for the Cleveland Browns. We all saw what he could do when he played 14 games in 2013 and went off for 87 receptions for 1,646 yards and 9 touchdowns. Ironically how many games will Gordon have with New England if he manages to play the rest of the year? Fourteen, and it will be must watch TV starting Sunday. Gordon hasn't had a quarterback like Tom Brady in his entire life, so it will be interesting to see what he can do.
Worst Case Scenario: Chad Johnson
Chad Johnson came to New England via trade in exchange for fifth and sixth round picks. Johnson was just two seasons away from his last one thousand yard season in Cincinnati and when he was traded. There were many skeptical the loud and often times distracting receiver would work out for the Patriots and the skeptics were proven right. Johnson had a minuscule 15 receptions for 276 yards and just one score, with only one catch in the Super Bowl in the year he was in New England. He proved so little value to the team he was not brought back the following year. His story serves as the warning to Gordon owners as to what could happen in a system which can sometimes be unkind to its new personnel due to them being lost in the shuffle.
Josh Gordon seems to be leaning more toward the Randy Moss scale rather than Chad Johnson. Moss was three years younger than Johnson when he joined the team and Gordon himself is just 27 years old. He also has a very favorable contract for the team for the next two years, which means this can be a longer experiment for them. Gordon will also immediately become the best receiver on a team in desperate need of a consistent deep threat since they shipped Brandin Cooks out of town this past offseason. Once Julian Edelman comes back from suspension they will have plenty of weapons to the point where Gordon will not have to worry about too much coverage being thrown his way.
Gordon checks a lot of boxes as far as receiving needs for the New England Patriots and the Patriots check a lot of boxes for what Gordon needs to stay sober and become the player everyone in the league knows he can be.