Can New England Fix Josh Gordon?

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BetAmerica Staff

September 17th, 2018

by BetAmerica Staff
The New England Patriots have made a move for another wide receiver that somebody doesn't want. Josh Gordon is bound for Foxboro after being traded from the Cleveland Browns for a fifth-round pick. It's a strange move, and one that shows how desperate the Patriots are to find a receiver that can help them in the wake of a humbling loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. New England reportedly beat out San Francisco, Washington and perhaps a few others who were in the bidding.

Whenever big names move to the Patriots, shades of Randy Moss and Corey Dillon come to mind. Moss in particular reignited his wayward career after a pitstop in a Raiders uniform before he landed with Brady and Belichik, romping towards an (almost) undefeated season. Dillon was the missing championship piece for the season leading up to a win in Super Bowl XXXIX over Philadelphia. Those are the bright, success stories of "The Patriot Way" rebuilding somebody else's broken toy.

But focusing on these two outliers overlooks all the misses that the Patriots have had at wide receiver in recent years. This season alone they've tried their hand with Corey Coleman, Eric Decker and Kenny Britt. Last year they made a move to acquire Philip Dorsett. The year before that, they rolled in to the 2016 campaign with guys like Malcolm Floyd and Aaron Dobson.

This isn't meant to crucify the Patriots, but it does lend itself to the idea that they believe they can fix problematic players who have potential. People might suggest that they did the same thing with Amendola, but he had shown glimpses in St. Louis before filling in the void left by Wes Welker and thriving from 2013 up until 2017. Amendola is now in Miami where he has a total of 8 catches for 58 yards through two games.

Josh Gordon is an absolutely mystifying entity, and given that the Cleveland Browns had so much trouble resurrecting the troubled talent's career, one can only really assume that they had finally had enough. Gordon was reportedly late for a team meeting, which led to him being benched in Week 2 as the Browns toiled haplessly against the Saints. There were also some rumors about his hamstring, but a physical performed by the Patriots didn't reveal anything newsworthy. If Gordon has any utility, surely he would garner more than a fifth round pick. This feels like the Browns viewing Josh Gordon as a sunken cost, and they were willing to take anything back in return.

There were some reports about other teams inquiring, but it seems odd that Cleveland would send a potential difference maker to a contender that has dominated the AFC for this entire century. To be clear, Josh Gordon has looked great during preseason workouts, but was seldom used (or targeted) in his first game back when the Browns took on Pittsburgh in Week 1. He caught 1-of-3 targets for a 17 yard touchdown and then never played for the Browns again.

This is a good time to mention that it's been nearly six years since Josh Gordon was the next big thing at wide receiver. In 2013, he turned 87 receptions in to 1,646 yards and 9 touchdowns. And then the troubles happened...again and again and again. That's probably why Josh Gordon went for so cheap. There's something amiss here, and the desperation of Cleveland to move on from this experiment gone awry is reflected in the return that they received for him. Reports indicate that the Patriots had the best offer, which is why all those NFC teams lost out on the receiver's services. But a fifth-round pick? For Josh Gordon?

Compounding the confusion here from Cleveland's side is that Josh Gordon is only being paid $790,000, which is dirt cheap compared to his colleagues around the NFL. Beyond salary cap details and other intangibles, it's not like the Browns are overflowing with offensive talent. They need all the help that they can get.

Cleveland isn't the only desperate team in this deal. New England knows that they have a flawed offense. Julian Edelman is still two games away from coming back, and the Patriots have managed 23.5 points per game (16th) without him while averaging 345.5 yards per (20th) over the first two weeks. And the defensive struggles that they have aren't going away any time soon. One of the reasons that Foxboro has endured a revolving door at wide receiver is that they just haven't found the answer yet. Chris Hogan isn't a great primary target. Gronk is required to block more often than the team wants to admit. Even with Edelman back, there's no telling how many points Brady will have to score in order to make up for a lacking defense that has allowed 25.5 points against (20th) so far.

You can easily make the argument that a 27-year old Josh Gordon can and will be rehabilitated by the New England Patriots machine. There's some proof in that pudding, but there are also a lot of errant hopefuls that never panned out. Gordon is talented enough that he warrants the risk, and New England is in a situation where they to find some help at wide receiver.

It all just seems strange, and it's not as easy to as "Well the Patriots do this all the time", because it doesn't always pan out successfully. We'll get our first taste of Josh Gordon (hopefully) when the New England Patriots visit their old defensive boss, Matt Patricia, as -6.5 road favorites against the Detroit Lions in Week 3.

We've all been rooting for Josh Gordon to get his act together. You'd have to imagine that this is his last chance. If he can't make it work in New England, he might not ever reach his true potential as a player. Desperate times occasionally call on everyone to invoke desperate measures.