Thursday, May 8, 2014 was the high point of the season for the Cleveland Browns. They had just had a sensational first round of the NFL Draft in which they selected the top cornerback in the draft in Justin Gilbert and still got their guy at quarterback: Johnny Manziel. However, Cleveland will never cease to be Cleveland as the very next day word came out that star wide receiver Josh Gordon had violated the league's substance abuse policy again and was facing a full year suspension. Classic, right?
Gordon emerged as one of the best receivers in the NFL last season. Despite being suspended for the first two games of 2013, he still led the league with 1,646 yards, averaging a league high 117.6 yards per game. Why would a guy who puts up those kind of numbers and is only 23 years old be available? Because he cannot seem to get it all straightened out and mature as a professional football player.
In addition to facing a year long suspension, Gordon was also recently arrested for driving while impaired (even though he was only .01 over the .08 legal limit - which in itself is a little low. I do not believe Gordon was actually "impaired" if he only blew a .09. However, that is a different, not sports related story).
Gordon needs to stop smoking; there's no two ways about it. He is throwing away his career as a very talented football player. If a team wants to try to steer Gordon in the right direction, they should look at what the Arizona Cardinals and Tyrann Mathieu were able to accomplish. Mathieu was kicked out of LSU for failing multiple drug tests. He could have been a first round pick; he had the talent to be one of the top defensive players off the board. However, he fell to the third round because he had to sit out a year after being dismissed from school. He has turned it around. If Mathieu could do it, so can Gordon.
Somebody on Twitter recently tweeted saying that Gordon needs to hang out with Mathieu to help get his life in order. Mathieu responded in a very mature and serious manner.
Now I am not saying that Gordon should hang out with Mathieu. He should, however, try to learn something from him, as he is someone who has gone through the same struggles.
Now where do the Patriots come into this mess? They have a solid group of young receivers. Aaron Dobson caught 37 balls for 519 yards his rookie season. Those numbers are very in line with other rookie receivers who then matured and had monster second years. Kenbrell Thompkins had a bit of an up-and-down rookie season, but he too possesses enough talent to be an outside threat, if he can develop. However, the Patriots could use a more proven receiver.
If the Browns are willing to trade Gordon, the price tag could not be very high. The Patriots have taken on troubled players in the past for low prices. Randy Moss was traded from Oakland to New England for a fourth round pick in 2007. He did not have drug issues, but there were questions as to whether or not he was motivated. They acquired Corey Dillon from the Cincinnati Bengals for a bit of a steeper price, a second round pick, in 2004. Aqib Talib and a seventh round pick came the Patriots' way in 2012 for a fourth rounder. Gordon would not be as expensive as Dillon was; the price tag would be more similar to that of Randy Moss, and possibly even less.
Would the Patriots be willing to take the risk with Gordon? That alone is a big question mark. There is also the slightly important topic of whether or not that Browns are willing to part with Gordon. If he can get it together, he would be a key piece to a Browns team that could actually compete in the upcoming years. If the Browns are willing to deal Gordon, or even cut him, the Patriots should take a flyer, depending on the cost to acquire him. If any franchise can turn a guy around, it is the New England Patriots.