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Untapped Potential: Josh Gordon

Welcome back to Untapped Potential!

Many players enter the league and many only stay a short while. Some have a lot of potential, and oters are just serviceable players. However, all will agree that the chance to be a staple in the NFL is small and you can’t take advantage of it. Take Josh Gordon for example, a guy who was primed to be a star after a standout year in 2013. By 2014, Gordon’s opportunity to be a national star was right there in his grasp, and it slipped right through his fingers.  This is Untapped Potential.

Rookie Year (2012)

Gordon’s NFL career began when he was drafted in the second round of the 2012 supplemental draft. He had a good rookie season totalling 805 yards on 50 catches and 5 touchdowns. It took Gordon five weeks to earn his first touchdown, scoring two in the Browns’ week five matchup against the New York Giants.

Gordon’s rookie year showed flashes of what the receiver could do, but it was 2013 that got everyone’s hopes up.

2013 Season- The Breakout

Despite his solid rookie year, the NFL suspended Gordon to start the 2013 season for violating the substance-abuse policy, a sign of what was to come. Despite losing those two games, Gordon broke out in a major way. He should of his elite speed and body control all season, leading many to believe he was the next best thing at receiver.

He would finish the 2013 season with 87 catches, 1,646 yards, and 9 touchdowns. This includes two back-to-back games where Gordon caught for over 230 yards. Those numbers came on a team that had 3 different quarterbacks start 3 games or more during the season. Many began to wonder what Gordon could do with solid or at the very least, consistent quarterback play. He finished as a first-team all-pro with Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell, and Brian Hoyer at the helm. Heading into 2014, many thought Gordon would continue his crazy production.

2014 Season- The beginning of the end

Before the 2014 season even began, Gordon was arrested for a DUI in North Carolina. About a month later, Gordon was officially suspended for a full season before an appeal reduced his suspension to just 10 games. Gordon would return against the Falcons in week 11, totaling 120 yards on eight catches. Gordon would play the next 4 games, however, he would not reach 100 yards again during 2014.

Coming into the last week of the season, Gordon was again suspended, this time by the team itself. This was due to a team rules violation, something that has happened before. Through just five games in 2014, Gordon finished with 24 catches and 303 yards, no touchdowns.

2015-2016 Seasons

2015 would start just like the year prior, as Gordon was once again suspended for the season. This was mainly because Gordon had pled guilty to his DUI a year prior. As a result, Gordon entered the NFL’s substance abuse program with hopes of turning things around.

During the offseason, Gordon’s initial reinstatement test failed after a positive drug test. By summer, however, Gordon was officially reinstated however, he was still suspended for the first four games of the season. Despite his reinstatement looming, Gordon chose to step away from football to focus on his health. He entered an in-patient rehabilitation facility in an attempt to try and get things right.

2017-2018 Seasons

Josh Gordon wouldn’t be reinstated again until November of 2017, He officially made his return in week 13 of the season, where he totaled four catches and 85 yards in his return. Gordon would play just five games again, finishing 2017 with 18 catches for 335 yards and a touchdown.

By 2018, many were hoping Gordon could keep it together for a full season. He would start week one for the Browns, before being cut the next week. The exact reason is not known, however, according to The Plain Dealer, the Browns had tried their hardest to stand by Gordon, but nothing seemed to be working. The team feared Gordon wasn’t sober anymore, and they moved on.

Gordon was then traded to the Tom Brady-led New England Patriots where he would have a mild resurgence. He had multiple 100-yard games and four touchdowns, one of which was Tom Brady’s 500th career touchdown pass.

Towards the end of the year, Gordon would officially announce he was stepping away to focus on mental health. Coincidentally, the NFL claimed Gordon was looking at a lifetime ban due to his repeated offenses. Gordon spent the 2018 offseason trying to get things right.

2019 and 2020

Josh Gordon was once again reinstated to start the 2019 season and the Patriots more than willingly kept him on the roster. In late October, Gordon was placed on IR, which would later lead to his appearance on waivers.

Gordon was immediately picked up by the Seattle Seahawks. Despite the opportunity, Gordon never caught more than 2 passes with the team and never reached more than 50 yards in a game. He would finish the 2019 season with 27 catches, 426 yards and one touchdown.

To make matters worse, in December 2019, Gordon was handed another suspension for the same issues as before. At this point, Gordon had totaled five suspensions, things were not looking good. Gordon would later resign with the Seahawks for the 2020 season. Gordon planned to return in mid-December but was shut down immediately by the league who once again, claimed Gordon was going against the league’s substance abuse policy.

2021 and Onward

During his suspension, Gordon played in the Fan-Controlled Football League. He played just two games, but in those two games, he once again showed why he had been given so many chances. He totaled seven catches for 100 yards and three touchdowns in those two games.

Gordon was reinstated into the league in 2021, signing with the Kansas City Chiefs. Due to a lack of production, Gordon was later released from the team during the 2022 offseason. He finished 2021 with just five catches for 14 yards and a touchdown.

Josh Gordon would make just one more appearance in the NFL after being signed by the Titans in 2022. He played just one game before being released by and NFL team for what seems to be the final time.

Nowadays, Josh Gordon is a member of the Seattle Sea Dragons in the XFL, where he played all ten games last season. While Gordon may not have made it in the NFL, he best chance now is to make the most of his XFL opportunities.

Untapped Potential is Back!!

Join us every Tuesday at 3PMEST going forward for a brand new edition of Untapped Potential! The series will rotate sports each week. Next week we head to the hardwood for our Untapped Potential player.

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