Josh Gordon is hoping to get another chance at playing in the NFL. The star wide receiver submitted a letter for reinstatement to commissioner Roger Goodell in mid-June, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. While Gordon awaits the league’s decision he has been working out and preparing for a return with the hope of getting his indefinite suspension lifted before training camp, Pelissero reported.
Gordon is serving his fifth suspension in eight seasons. He last played in December for the Seattle Seahawks, who claimed him off waivers after a brief stint in New England. Gordon played five games for the Seahawks (with one start) before he was suspended for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs and substance abuse.
Gordon has been open about his struggle with addiction and mental health—even stepping away in 2018, during his time with the Patriots, to focus on his mental health. His recent relapse in November, which led to his suspension, followed his brother’s death.
“That set him back,” Gordon’s lawyer, Adam Kenner, told Pelissero. “But since that time, he has realized how important it is for him to take the right steps, do what’s proper and understand how to manage these issues. He’s installed the right team around him to make sure he’s on the right path. He understands he’s been given every chance. He looks forward to making the most of this.”
A decision on Gordon’s reinstatement should be made in the next 30 days, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported. If approved, Gordon, who turned 29 in April, will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career and teams should be clamoring at the chance to add Gordon to their roster; he’ll first have to serve the remaining two games of his six-game suspension.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll hasn’t closed the door on Gordon’s potential return. In late May, Gordon was working out with Seattle wide receiver D.K. Metcalf and linebacker Bobby Wagner; San Francisco 49er, and former Seahawk, Richard Sherman was there too. Gordon has received unrelenting support from Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson as well.
"For me, I have no other choice than to believe that he is going to overcome," Wilson said in December, via The Tacoma News Tribune. "Why would you think the other way?
"I think this environment has been great for him, to be honest with you. He really, really fit in—in terms of just the everyday part of the process. Since day one he was studying and working and highlighting and doing all the extra work.”
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are building around newly signed quarterback Tom Brady, and the Washington Redskins, who could use a proven, veteran presence in their wide receiver corps with new head coach Ron Rivera, are other potential landing spots for Gordon. Brady already has familiarity with Gordon, who played and started in 17 games with the Patriots from 2018-19. He tallied 60 receptions for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns. His time in Seattle was less productive after he only played in the five games as the team’s WR3, but was a reliable pass-catcher when targeted. He caught seven of the 11 attempts.
If teams can take chances on players for far worse things—including a number of domestic violence and sexual assault allegations—then giving Gordon a chance should be a no-brainer. He was once one of the NFL’s brightest young talents. While Gordon hasn’t played more than 12 games for a single team since 2013 with the Cleveland Browns, when he led the league in yards (1,646), it isn’t for a lack of effort. Gordon’s play has been sporadic, but he’s still shown he can make big plays. He’ll get to test the market and will likely come at a very low cost to interested teams.
If Goodell and any number of teams are being more vocal about social justice issues and what has harmed Black communities, then mental health needs to also be part of the conversation; the NFL cannot say Black lives matter without Black mental health mattering too. Gordon can join a team as its WR3, similar to the role he played in Seattle, while getting the support and care he needs. The only reason a team shouldn’t take a chance on Gordon is if they truly only care about the athletic performance and not the athlete themselves.