As if it was scripted, New England acquired Gordon in a trade with the Cleveland Browns on Monday, sending a fifth-round pick the other way. If Gordon isn’t active for 10 games – hardly a guarantee considering his history – the Patriots will get back a seventh rounder.
The initial reaction by many to the move was ‘of course’. As in, of course the Patriots, who needed a wide receiver and have a history of turning misfits into contributors, would be the ones to take a chance on Gordon. And of course it will end up working out for them, because they’re playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers.
The Randy Moss comparison has been thrown around. In 2007, New England traded for the Hall of Fame receiver, sending a fourth-round pick to the Oakland raiders. The result was a historic offence for that season and a record-breaking year for Moss.
Gordon isn’t Moss, although he does have Hall of Fame talent. But Moss, who was at times a handful off the field himself, never had the kind of issues Gordon dealt with – namely substance abuse.
If Gordon can stay on the field, there’s little to suggest he won’t be able to thrive with Tom Brady throwing him the ball. After all, he led the league in receiving with 1,646 yards in his second season, when he had Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer as his quarterbacks.
Josh Gordon highlight thread: Every touchdown catch of his career (I'll probably add other big plays to this as well)— New Account (@ftbeard_17) September 17, 2018
Starting with the first TD of his career vs NYG (2012) back when he was wearing #13 pic.twitter.com/GvwYIYUPtK
Gordon will have to learn a complex playbook and focus on running sharp, precise routes, but it’s not as if he’ll be asked to play like Julian Edelman. Bill Belichick is stellar at many aspects of coaching, but one of his best attributes may be how he plays to the strengths of his players. With Gordon, the Patriots will leverage his athleticism and penchant for making big plays.
The only thing stopping Gordon from rejuvenating his career in New England is his own demons. The Patriots pride themselves on having a culture in which everyone does their job. If Gordon fails to fall in line or relapses with drugs, his stint with the five-time champions will be a short one.
At the cost of a fifth-round pick, the price is well worth the risk, and there’s a reason why few will be shocked if this trade is viewed as a heist in a few months.
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