If Reinstated, Seahawks Shouldn't Hesitate to Re-Sign Josh Gordon
With the NFL closing in on two months until the expected start of training camp, several players serving indefinite suspensions have started to pursue reinstatement, including former Seahawks receiver Josh Gordon.
Per sources, the 29-year old Gordon will apply for potential reinstatement in the near future, joining Cowboys linebacker Aldon Smith and Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory as the latest player seeking another opportunity. Smith received clearance to return earlier this week and will be attempting to play in an NFL game for the first time since 2015.
With Smith's re-admittance and a new substance-abuse policy as part of the recently-ratified CBA, it seems more likely that players like Gordon and Gregory will be allowed back on the field. However, Gordon's history doesn't make it a guarantee he will be reinstated whenever he files his paperwork.
Once a First-Team All-Pro receiver for the Browns in 2013, Gordon has been suspended five times for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy during his career. New policies enacted by the players and owners won't make those prior transgressions suddenly disappear.
Unable to take advantage of his latest shot to turn his career around, the league slapped Gordon with another indefinite suspension last December after playing in just five games and making seven catches for the Seahawks. It was just the latest bump in the road for the troubled young receiver and coach Pete Carroll empathized with his ongoing battle.
"My heart goes out to Josh having to face this again. The fact that he’s up against it and all poses a great challenge to him. Fortunately, he’ll have the benefit of all of the league’s resources to support him and help him. We wish him the very best in taking care of business. It was very unfortunate.”
If he's reinstated - which remains a huge if - Gordon will be an unrestricted free agent and free to sign with any team. Considering Seattle was 27th on the waiver wire and no other teams put a claim on him after New England waived him last season, interest around the league may be lukewarm at best.
Despite his lengthy suspension history and failed first attempt with the franchise, however, the Seahawks should be open to bringing him back for a second run.
By all accounts, Gordon was a respected teammate and he quickly acclimated himself to Seattle's locker room upon his arrival off waivers last November. He immediately got to work learning the playbook and giving 110 percent on the practice field, drawing raving reviews from coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson.
Though his production wasn't great during his five-game stint with the Seahawks, Gordon started to show signs of life shortly before being banished for a fifth time. He caught a highlight-reel 59-yard grab against the Panthers in his final game with the team and made several clutch third down grabs, earning Wilson's trust in clutch situations.
After Gordon received his latest ban from the NFL, Wilson applauded Gordon's work ethic and viewed him as a beloved teammate, expressing interest in teaming up again in the future if possible.
"He was just like 'man, this is the place I want to be. This is the place that helped changed my life a little bit and I’m getting better.' I think that all those things, you hope that he can come back to us and play with us. More importantly, it’s about him. It’s about his soul. It’s about life. It’s about all the things that we all have to go through and overcome.”
It's also worth noting Gordon has remained in the Pacific Northwest throughout his suspension, recently posting an image on Instagram of himself catching a pass while working out in Seattle. He seemed to find a home during his brief time with the franchise.
General manager John Schneider has made a few moves this offseason to improve depth behind star receivers Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, including signing former first-round pick Phillip Dorsett and placing an original round restricted free agent tender on David Moore. Seattle also has high hopes for 2019 seventh-round pick John Ursua, who could see an expanded role in his second season.
Adding Gordon back to the fold could make one of the players expendable, which might be the biggest reason not to re-sign him.
But none of the three aforementioned players have Gordon's physical tools and upside. Even though it's been seven years since he dominated the league with the Browns, he still offers tantalizing talent and looks to be keeping himself in fantastic shape.
While his past history will immediately eliminate multiple teams from pursuing him if he's reinstated, there would be little risk for the Seahawks to re-sign Gordon, who won't be a locker room distraction. He would be paid near league minimum salary-wise and wouldn't be guaranteed a roster spot.
If his second go-around with Seattle pans out like the first one did or he simply doesn't impress in training camp and the preseason, the organization can move on without absorbing a hefty dead cap hit. But if he plays to his potential and continues to develop a rapport with Wilson, he could be a dangerous third target behind Lockett and Wilson.
Asking for the latter may be wishful thinking revisiting Gordon's checkered past. But there's really no downside to giving him another shot, especially with newcomers and rookies being at a disadvantage due to the absence of OTAs and minicamps this spring.
Already knowing the playbook and having a strong relationship with Wilson, Gordon would be able to step in right away at practice and contribute. Even if the first time didn't end as planned, this would be a low-risk, high-reward investment at this point and the Seahawks should remain confident their culture and support systems can help this young man achieve sustained success on and off the field.