In a statement released by the NFL, Roger Goodell announced the reinstatement of Patriots receiver Josh Gordon on Friday. Gordon had been indefinitely suspended by the league in December of 2018 for a violation of the league's substance-abuse policy.
In the statement, Goodell said, "We are all rooting for Josh to succeed both personally, and professionally. Everyone shares in that hope and will continue to support him to every extent possible. But as Josh acknowledged, ultimately his success is up to him."
“We are all rooting for Josh to succeed, both personally and professionally,” Roger Goodel says of Josh Gordon’s reinstatement on a conditional basis. pic.twitter.com/fomz17v7ja
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) August 16, 2019
Beginning Sunday, Gordon is welcome back at the Patriots facility and is able to begin practicing and working out with the team. He can attend the team's third preseason game on August 22nd, but he will not be able to play because of a lack of conditioning.
Gordon has had a long history of suspensions related to substance abuse during his time in the NFL. He has missed two full seasons due to his suspensions while he was a member of the Cleveland Browns. Last season, after 10 games with the Patriots, he was suspended after announcing that he was stepping away from the game to focus on his mental health.
Gordon was an effective player for New England during his 10 games with the team last year. He caught 40 passes for 720 yards and four touchdowns. He quickly found himself as a reliable target for Tom Brady. This relationship continued in the offseason, as Gordon worked out with Brady during his suspension.
Gordon returns to a wide receiver room that is still relatively thin. With Julian Edelman still sidelined, the Patriots main receivers have consisted of Phillip Dorsett, Maurice Harris, Jakobi Meyers, and N'Keal Harry. Braxton Berrios, Dontrelle Inman, Damoun Patterson, Ryan Davis, and Gunner Olszewski have also made contributions. Cameron Meredith and Demaryus Thomas remain on the PUP list.
Gordon's return means that the competition for a roster spot has gotten that much more intense for people like Meyers and Inman. At a cap hit of just $2 million, a high talent level, and a connection with Brady, Gordon is now likely a roster lock. There may be less room for some of the young guys battling for a spot.
This is a good sign for both Gordon personally, and the league itself. Gordon has taken significant strides towards keeping himself healthy and substance-free. He has obviously stumbled but seems to be in a better place than he was during his time in Cleveland. The league has taken a positive step forward as well by using common sense. They have seemingly come to an understanding (finally) that maybe issues like this no longer need ridiculous punishments.