For the first time since December of 2014, Josh Gordon will take to an NFL field. The long-suspended former Pro Bowler was granted conditional reinstatement by the NFL on Wednesday and will be allowed to play starting in December.
Josh Gordon to be reinstated to the NFL
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) November 1, 2017
It’s been a long process for Gordon, who has worked the past several months to overcome his addiction issues. It’s also not yet clear how he fits into the Browns’ long-term plans.
“We’ve been informed of the league’s decision to reinstate Josh,” Browns GM Sashi Brown said, via the team’s official website. “The personal well-being of all our players is of the utmost importance to us. We respect and commend Josh for taking the steps necessary to have the opportunity to return to the league.”
That’s your run-of-the-mill statement from Brown. It’s what he said next that’s most interesting.
“Josh will be in our building in the coming days and we look forward to having him back and sitting with him to discuss his future on our team,” the executive continued.
This is far from an endorsement from the organization. It also comes mere months after suggestions indicated the team had already washed its hands of the embattled, but talented pass catcher.
So what should the Browns do next? That’s the million dollar question.
With the NFL trade deadline having passed on Tuesday, this limits the team’s options. Short of releasing Gordon outright, he’ll likely be a member of the team throughout the remainder of the season.
Though, a release still remains on the table considering reports suggested Tuesday that Cleveland was talking to other teams about Gordon should he have been reinstated prior to the trade deadline (more on that here).
From an on-field perspective, it really is a no-brainer. Gordon immediately becomes the Browns’ most skilled offensive player. For an 0-8 team with one of the worst quarterback situations in recent memory, Gordon’s presence could very well be a boon here.
Remember, the former supplemental pick from Baylor led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards back in 2013. At just 26 years old, he’s still relatively young. Why not give him a chance to contribute as long as he’s clean off the field?
The idea here would not only be to give Gordon an opportunity to earn his keep in Cleveland, it could showcase him for other teams should the relationship prove to be a failure following the season.
Cleveland is an absolute mess. This is already known. Adding someone of Gordon’s ilk could complicate that further. But it’s a risk the team has to be willing to take.
The time is now for them to embrace a talented receiver that’s attempting to turn his life around. What do the Browns have to lose aside from eight more games?