There are very few tragic figures in the NFL that conjure up as much sympathy as former Seahawks receiver Josh Gordon. His promising young career was derailed by a drug addiction that he's ultimately been unable to keep at bay.
He's beloved by his teammates and is, by all accounts, a good man who is struggling with an addiction—something many can relate with. But the NFL is primarily focused on winning and if availability is the best ability, should a team like the Seahawks consider taking another flyer on Gordon?
Everybody is going to have their opinion on Gordon. After the Seahawks took a chance on him in 2019, he appeared in five games and made some solid contributions along the way, including two key third-down conversions in an overtime win against the rival 49ers.
But after the unfortunate passing of his brother, Gordon relapsed and was subsequently suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy—the fifth suspension of his career and fourth of its kind. He stayed in the Seattle area that following offseason, maintaining a line of contact with Seahawks players and coaches.
In September of 2020, he signed with the team once it appeared he was on the brink of reinstatement. Weeks and months went by without word on his reinstatement, however.
On December 21, the NFL finally ruled him eligible to return. But just a day later, the league would reverse its ruling after determining that Gordon violated the conditions of his reinstatement and his indefinite suspension went back into effect.
Once the Seahawks' season ended, they granted Gordon his release so he could participate in Fan Controlled Football. When his respective team was eliminated from FCF's postseason, he shifted his attention towards getting back on the NFL gridiron and looks to be on the verge of doing just that. Last Friday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Gordon has submitted his request for reinstatement and has undergone a series of random league-ordered drug tests over the past three months, passing all of them.
Rooting for Gordon is easy for anybody with a shred of compassion, but at this stage, it's quite reasonable for fans to wish him well somewhere else. Gordon has been given multiple chances by the NFL and two chances by the Seahawks themselves. Trusting Gordon a third time might be a step too far for some to take, and that is understandable.
But Gordon reportedly made quite an impact on his teammates in his short time with the Seahawks and bought into the team's unique culture immediately. They also don't need to trust Gordon to take a flyer on him. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are established stars. They spent their first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on second-rounder Dee Eskridge and are quite fond of Freddie Swain, Cade Johnson and Connor Wedington, among others.
Gordon would be guaranteed nothing, forcing him to earn a spot on the active roster. He'll likely make the veteran minimum, is still just 30 years old and his size and speed combo are still valuable on the football field.
All signs point to Seattle knowing he's a fit in the locker room and isn't a culture destroyer. And Pete Carroll doesn't give up on people. He honestly believes he can get the best out of anybody, and this belief—albeit with a few hiccups—has been a boon to the Seahawks' organization.
Some will never trust Gordon again and so long as those people understand that he's dealing with an illness, they are entitled to feel that way and have a strong case to make for that opinion. They're not wrong.
But neither are those who dream of Gordon's value on the field. He can help the Seahawks and maybe, just maybe, the Seahawks can help him. Carroll believes the best way to help somebody is not to change them but to help them become the best version of themselves. And by all accounts, the best version of Gordon is a darn good football player and a quality human being.
If the best version of Gordon on and off the field can meet in the middle as a member of the Seahawks, he's well worth taking a risk on.