Shortly after Gordon announced Thursday that he was stepping away from the Patriots, the league announced he had been suspended and it seemed as if he might be best remembered for his unrealized football potential. He was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the second round of the 2012 supplemental draft, having starred at Baylor in 2010 before being suspended from the team for off-field issues and transferring to Utah. As a second-year pro in 2013, he caught 87 passes for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns in 14 games, which projected to 1,881 receiving yards over a 16-game season — a figure that would have been the second-best single-season total in NFL history. But he was suspended repeatedly under the league’s substance abuse policy and, before this fall, had played in only 10 regular season NFL games since his breakout season in 2013.
He was reinstated by the NFL in November 2017, with Commissioner Roger Goodell saying the responsibility for his continued eligibility would be up to Gordon. He played five games last season, and returned to the Browns for all of one game in September, reportedly showing up late to the team’s facility with a hamstring injury that, according to reports, was suffered at a promotional event.
With Cleveland’s patience exhausted, the Browns traded the receiver to New England on Sept. 17 for a conditional fifth-round pick. He played in 11 games with the Patriots and had 40 catches for a team-high 720 yards and three touchdowns. But he had just one catch for 19 yards in last week’s loss to the Steelers, four days before his and the league’s subsequent announcements.
Will Gordon get another chance in the NFL? Rapoport said it’s “possible” if he can show that he has been clean for a long period of time.