At about 8 am Sunday morning, ESPN's Adam Schefter made waves with the following tweet:
Cleveland fielding offers for and open to trading WRs Josh Gordon and Greg Little. At least one team has made a quality offer for Gordon.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 22, 2013
This news led many a Pats fan to wonder what it might take to get the talented-but-troubled receiver to New England. Of course, this was before Gordon caught 10 balls for 146 yards and touchdown in his season debut against Minnesota. After the game, Browns Coach Rod Chudzinski denied the trade rumors, but Gordon's eye-popping 19 targets scream that the team was showcasing the talented receiver.
So, should the Patriots make an offer to try to bring Gordon into the fold? In one word, no.
While the 22 year old Gordon has legitimate Pro Bowl potential, he is also one failed drug test away from a season-long suspension from the league. While the answer to that problem seems relatively simple (stop doing drugs), that has been an issue for Gordon throughout his football career. The receiver was dismissed from Baylor's football program after failing multiple drug tests for marijuana. Hilariously enough, one of those incidents came after he and a teammate fell asleep in line at a Taco Bell drive thru with weed in the car.
He then transferred from Baylor to Utah but never played a game for the Utes after (guess what) failing a drug test. Despite this forcing Gordon to enter the supplemental draft, likely costing him millions of guaranteed dollars, he found himself suspended for the first two games of this season for...failing a drug test.
Smoking a lot of weed doesn't make Gordon a bad guy, but it doesn't make him look too bright considering how much his failed drug tests have impeded his career. Most importantly, I can't stress enough that the failed test leaves Gordon one positive test away from a season-long ban.
For the record, Gordon claims his most recent suspension is the result of his taking cold medicine containing codeine to combat a case of strep throat in February. While this is plausible (the league gave him only two games instead of the maximum penalty of four) and certainly not malicious, it also illustrates how risky a proposition Gordon is. Even if he is correct and got suspended for cough medicine, that goes to show how easily that next suspension could come. You are talking about a guy one over-the-counter mix up away from losing a full season.
Need another reason to be wary of Gordon? Take a look at the Patriots passing game during their first two games. As you might have heard a few times this summer, the Patriots passing offense is very complicated and difficult to learn, particularly for wide receivers. It demands that the team's wideouts make reads on most plays, with the success of the play dependent on the receiver and Tom Brady making the same correct read. Rookies and veterans alike have struggled mastering the offense after having an entire offseason and training camp to study the playbook.
Asking a guy to come in midseason, pick up the offense (which has already been installed and is expanding constantly throughout the season) and instantly contribute is borderline lunacy. Much of the pining for Gordon can be attributed to frustration with the team's sluggish start in the passing game, but a trade for Gordon would likely reap little short term benefit.
While Gordon's potential as a deep threat is enticing, it's important to remember that this Patriots offense just put up 23 points on a good Buccaneers defense without it's top receiver, running back and tight end. The sky isn't falling and there's no reason to panic in Foxborough. Gordon might have great upside, but the Pats already have a few talented receiving prospects who displayed real signs of progress on Sunday. There's little reason to derail that progress with a trade, especially for a guy who doesn't know the offense and is one bad cup of pee away from a season-long suspension. It's a huge, unnecessary risk for a team that has been burnt enough this year from risky decisions.