Josh Gordon has been out of the NFL since 2014. He was suspended for all of 2015, and was banned indefinitely last season after being briefly reinstated in July. He’s a super talented wide receiver who proved to be exactly that in 2013, but his off-field troubles have prevented him from realizing his potential.
Gordon is still waiting to hear whether he’ll be reinstated by Roger Goodell, but reports suggest that news could come as soon as next month. Adding to that notion, Gordon shared a photo of himself this week looking like an NFL receiver in terrific shape.
It’s still early to discuss Gordon’s future in the NFL, considering how many slip-ups he’s had in the past, and the desperate need for him to get this life back on track, but it sounds like he’s on the right path. If he does return to the NFL, which team could take a shot on the troubled wideout? Here are seven possibilities, including the team that would have to release or trade him to make any of the other options possible.
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Green Bay Packers
On paper, the Packers look deep at wideout. Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb. All are good players based on name recognition, but when you actually watch them play, you begin to realize why Aaron Rodgers is calling for the Packers to go all in this year.
Nelson has lost a step and is no longer a deep threat, Cobb is arguably the most overpaid receiver in the NFL, and Adams is inconsistent. Gordon would immediately be the Packers’ best receiver from Day 1, giving Rodgers a true go-to target.
With Green Bay’s stable locker room, no-nonsense style of business and small-town atmosphere, it could be the ideal place for Gordon to get his life back on track.
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San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers had one of the worst receiving units in the NFL last season, and although it improved slightly thanks to the addition of Pierre Garcon, it’s far from complete. Garcon isn’t a true No. 1 receiver, which is a problem the 49ers had last season with Torrey Smith struggling in that role.
Gordon, when on the field, is unequivocally a No. 1. He can run all the routes, catch passes on the outside and in the slot, and take the top off of a defense. Pairing him with a potential rookie quarterback would help that player’s development. He just has to remain focused on football.
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The team he’s under contract with just so happens to have a need at receiver with Terrelle Pryor gone. General manager Sashi Brown admitted as much this week when he said they’re not in a position to walk away from a player of Gordon’s caliber. We saw what he did with shaky quarterback play in 2013, putting up 1,646 yards on 87 catches with the Browns.
Gordon could be given another chance by the desperate Browns, potentially reviving his career with the team that he started with. Gordon is the type of player who can make his quarterback noticeably better when on the field, which is something the Browns could use.
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The Ravens lack explosiveness on offense, and that’ll be even more apparent with Steve Smith retired. Breshad Perriman can’t be counted on and Mike Wallace isn’t the receiver he once was.
John Harbaugh and the Ravens would be able to get him back on track, taking guidance from veterans like Joe Flacco, Benjamin Watson and Wallace. The stability in that locker room, paired with Baltimore’s growing desperation for help offensively, make the Ravens a good landing spot for Gordon.
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Seattle has gotten by in recent years with a group of receivers that lacks height and overall size. Doug Baldwin is a good player, but he’s not going to win jump-balls the way Gordon will, or take the top off of a defense with blazing speed. Gordon is 6-foot-3, which is significantly taller than the 5-foot-11 Baldwin. For a quarterback such as Russell Wilson, who likes to put air under his deep passes, that’s a big difference.
Not to mention, Wilson is one of the best leaders in the NFL and a guy teammates look up to. If Wilson could take Gordon under his wing and keep him out of trouble off of the field, the Seahawks’ offense could improve dramatically.
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When have the Bengals ever been reluctant to take in a player with baggage? The answer is almost never. Part of the reason is that Marvin Lewis knows how to manage personalities and often gets the most out of players with character concerns. Lewis could potentially do the same with Gordon, who has all the ability in the world but just lacks focus and discipline.
Next to A.J. Green, Gordon would see one-on-one matchups, giving Andy Dalton two elite receivers on the outside. We saw how the departures of Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones impacted the offense, and it’s now clear the Bengals need to add a solid No. 2 option.
Los Angeles Rams
Sorry Rams fans, but Robert Woods isn’t going to scare any defense as L.A.’s top receiver. Tavon Austin won’t, either. However, Gordon absolutely would. He would be the best receiver the Rams have had in a long time.
With Jared Goff struggling to develop last season – partly because of his supporting cast – the Rams need to surround him with talent. He’s going to struggle if his two best receivers are Woods and Austin, two players with relatively one-dimensional skill sets. The spotlight of Los Angeles might be difficult for Gordon, but this would be a good on-field fit.