NFL News & Analysis

Patriots trade for WR Josh Gordon

Carson, CA, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) looks on during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

It was only a matter of time. When an incredibly talented but troubled player becomes available, the New England Patriots always seem to get involved. 

Bill Belichick was at it again on Monday, trading a conditional fifth-round pick for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, according to ESPN insider Adam Schefter.

The Browns announced on Saturday that they were looking to part ways with the embattled wide receiver, and so he was inactive for Week 2 after playing over 75 percent of the team’s offensive snaps in Week 1.

Gordon only had one catch on three targets against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but that one catch was a 17-yard touchdown on a back-shoulder fade that reminded everyone how special he can be when he’s at 100 percent.


Of course, off-field issues have prevented him from playing at his best for the last four seasons. Back in 2013, he led the NFL in receiving yards (1,646) and finished in the Top five in yards per reception (18.9) and yards after catch (633) in only 14 games. He was the 13th highest-graded wide receiver in the NFL that year at 82.6 overall, and he would have been much higher if not for 10 dropped passes.


Gordon missed all of 2015 and 2016 because of suspension, and he was reinstated in time for the final five games of 2017. Over that span last year, he was the 19th highest-graded wide receiver at 76.3 overall.

He joins a Patriots offense in need of a play-maker at wide receiver. Tom Brady has thrown the fewest passes to wide receivers of any quarterback who has started two games this season. He hasn’t completed a pass of more than 20 yards downfield to a wide receiver, and in 2013, Gordon was tied for second in the NFL with 15 deep receptions and finished fourth with 511 deep receiving yards, again in only 14 games.

Phillip Dorsett is the team’s only wide receiver with an overall grade above 70.0 in 2018, Brady has only connected with Chris Hogan on four of his nine total targets and Cordarrelle Patterson has only been on the field for 32 percent of the Patriots’ offensive snaps through two games. 

The Patriots are still two weeks away from Julian Edelman returning from his four-game suspension, and if Belichick can tap into Gordon’s immense potential, it could be another genius move by one of the NFL’s top masterminds.

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