So uh…remember that guy who kept Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown off the first-team All-Pro list back in 2013? He’s back. Or he’s on his way back. For like the third or fourth time. We don’t know yet whether or not he will actually make it back.
In case you somehow managed to read this far without noticing the headline, or haven’t guessed already, I’m referring to wide receiver Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns, whom they selected with a second-round draft pick in the supplemental draft in 2012 out of Baylor.
He started 13 of 16 games as a rookie, catching 50 passes for 805 yards and five touchdowns—for reference, not too dissimilar to what JuJu Smith-Schuster is doing right now—but he really broke out a year later, even while being hit with a two-game suspension.
After sitting out the first two games, Gordon went on a tear, catching 87 passes for 1646 yards (averaging 117 yards per game) with nine touchdowns. He had a truly monstrous span of games late in the year, four straight with at least 125 yards, and some much more.
He started off with a five-catch, 125-yard showing against the Bengals, then grabbed 14 passes for 237 against the Steelers, 10 for 261 against the Jaguars, and finally seven for 151 against the Patriots, scoring five touchdowns in the process.
That season just showed what remarkable talent he possessed, but he also drastically derailed his career with drug suspensions. He was originally suspended for all of 2014, but returned for the last five, and was clearly not the same player.
He was then suspended all of 2015 before being conditionally reinstated in 2016, set to serve another six-game suspension. Before he returned from that suspension, however, he checked himself into rehab. Which means he technically was never activated from suspension—and thus still suspended.
Halfway through the 2017 season, Gordon has now been, once again, conditionally reinstated. He will be eligible to practice on the 20th—three Mondays from now, and would be eligible to return to play a week after that.
There was talk of potentially moving his rights before the trade deadline, but given that that did not happen, he will either play for the Browns this year or nobody, unless he is released. And given that it is the Browns, they may have botched the trade anyway.
With Corey Coleman on injured reserve and Kenny Britt just a headache, the Browns don’t have much to throw to—or much to throw, either, for that matter. DeShone Kizer has already been benched a couple of times and Hue Jackson wanted to bring over AJ McCarron, his boy from Cincinnati.
At this point, who knows if Gordon could actually help or hurt a winless Browns team. One thing is for sure, and that is that it is not easy trying to return to the game at the highest level after coming back from an extended layoff. Just ask Martavis Bryant.