Josh Gordon is officially back, a piece of news that was met with elation from New England Patriots fans and fantasy football enthusiasts.
The NFL announced Friday that it had reinstated Gordon after suspending him indefinitely late last season. While most coaching staffs would probably be jumping for joy over the return of a talent like Gordon, Patriots coach Bill Belichick offered a more ... reserved take on Gordon’s reinstatement.
Statement from #Patriots head coach Bill Belichick regarding the league's reinstatement of Josh Gordon:— New England Patriots (@Patriots) August 17, 2019
"For the past eight months, Josh’s situation has been entirely a league matter. When Josh returns to our program, we will evaluate the entire situation and do what we feel is best for Josh and the team," the statement read in its entirety.
What does the Patriots’ Josh Gordon statement mean?
So, this statement could mean a number of things from the Patriots’ point of view.
The prospect of doing “what we feel is best for Josh and the team” could mean Gordon’s return won’t be immediate. Gordon is already out for the Patriots’ third preseason game on Thursday, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Belichick probably released this statement for a reason, as he could have also just said that he welcomes Gordon’s return.
The clear objective should be maintaining Gordon’s sobriety, which could mean football comes second. Gordon has been suspended five times in his NFL career for violations of the league’s substance abuse policy, and you have to wonder how many more chances he’ll get after receiving a relatively light penalty from the league this time.
Gordon is still under contract with the Patriots after signing a restricted free agent tender in the offseason worth $2.025 million.
Patriots would clearly have a use for Gordon
Belichick’s statement aside, the Patriots should have a very clear use for Gordon once he’s up to speed.
Dozens of targets are up for grabs in the Patriots’ offense after the retirement of Rob Gronkowski, and the Patriots’ already-thin receiving corps is dealing with injury issues.
Demaryius Thomas is still recovering from a torn Achilles suffered last season. First-rounder N’Keal Harry (leg) and Phillip Dorsett (thumb) have both been missing practice. Maurice Harris is out for a while with a lower leg injury, per Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston. Julian Edelman is good, but he’s also 33 and can only receive so many targets.
Meanwhile, Gordon did this last season.
🚨 Josh Gordon is BACK!— PFF (@PFF) August 16, 2019
In the short time together, the Brady-to-Gordon connection resulted in 11.3 yards per attempt which is the best mark by a Brady-to-receiver duo in the PFF era, beating out notable combinations like Brady to Gronk (10.3) and Brady to Moss (9.2). https://t.co/k0I5PDECJ4 pic.twitter.com/z1x671g6dT
What’s best for Gordon might still be a question, but it’s clear what’s best for the Patriots when it comes to the turbulent receiver.
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