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  • Right now, the Patriots need someone behind Chris Hogan, and Josh Gordon was available via trade. Can Belichick squeeze anything out of the receiver?
By Conor Orr
September 17, 2018

Maybe Josh Gordon’s career in New England will pan out like Randy Moss’s. Maybe he will be Michael Floyd, Kenny Britt or Chad Ochocinco. Enter the name of a fallen superstar Bill Belichick has kicked the tires on at some point and realize that, over 18 years, all we know is that sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t.

The amazing thing about being the greatest head coach in NFL history is that it doesn’t particularly matter. Belichick has created the kind of system that can immediately weed out the good and bad; it motors on from anyone who can’t keep up. Teams have tried and failed to copy this churn, which ultimately fails due to their lack of stability at the quarterback position, the coordinator spots, the offensive line or a combination of the three. There is enough talent both on the NFL’s roster fringe or free agency if a coach is flexible enough to sift through the junk.

Maybe Belichick will look like a genius for bringing in Gordon, even though the Patriots have been frantically turning over rocks in every NFL city searching for someone capable of filling the lineup card at receiver behind Chris Hogan—this is, sort of, a mess he created for himself. Maybe Gordon will disappear from the roster one Wednesday morning like D. B. Cooper, with the inevitable non-explanation from the head coach to follow. We won’t talk much about it because they’ll have a seven-game lead in the AFC East.

In sticking to this process, Belichick gives himself access to talent that general managers once drooled over on draft day, nabbing them for a third of the price once the players have matured physically over a few years in the league. By the time these embattled playmakers fall into Belichick’s hands, they are aware that this is likely the last shot they’ll have at regenerating their career and typically act accordingly. 

This is the story behind the Gordon signing. While other teams certainly would have been interested in putting in a waiver claim, the Patriots cut the line and, according to multiple reports, put a provisional in the deal that will return a late-round pick if Gordon isn’t on the active roster for 10 games or more.

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There is no way to stop New England, at least not while Tom Brady is on the roster and not while Josh McDaniels is offensive coordinator. Sensing a relative end to one of the greatest runs in professional sports, Foxborough will double as a short-stay hostel for anyone with a lick of mineable talent that can be had for a fifth-round pick or less. Can you run an option route or take the top off a defense? Excellent, you can stay for the rest of the year.

Gordon has represented false promise for the better part of six years now. He is either a troubled soul who is finally approaching the light, or a kid who always loved everything else more than football. Cleveland was patient. They celebrated his return, and his other return, and his other return. Hue Jackson was nothing short of smitten when he found out the date and time of Gordon’s arrival toward the end of training camp this year.

The Browns put in all the time that the Patriots don’t need to now. They invested all the man hours. Throughout the roughly 1,300 coaching staffs Gordon had over his time in Cleveland, he was able to learn some of the finer points of a Norv Turner offense and a Kyle Shanahan system. He got to play with Brian Hoyer, who will probably assist in a crash course of the Patriots’ offense to get him ready.

If any of the things Gordon has learned stayed with him, Belichick will squeeze it out for nothing. And no matter what, he’ll be quick to move on. 

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