Josh Gordon is a tantalizing prospect. He's a 6-foot-3, 225-pound receiver who once had an incredible, 87-catch, 1,646-yard, nine-touchdown performance in a season in which he played only 14 games. That was supposed to be only a scratch in the surface of his great talent. And he's still only 27 years old.
Now he's headed to the New England Patriots, after the Cleveland Browns struck a deal to send Gordon for a 2019 fifth-round pick. If Gordon is not active for 10 games, a 2019 seventh-round pick will be returned to the Patriots. The Jets, meanwhile, still don't have a true No. 1 receiver to gift-wrap to their young quarterback, Sam Darnold.
They need a player like Gordon.
It's just that acquiring Gordon would've been a terrible idea.
There's a reason, of course, that the rebuilding Browns are willing to dump a young talent like Gordon. The simple version is that he's become far more trouble than he's worth. He's been almost constantly on suspension since that magical season he had - which, by the way, was back in 2013. He missed all of 2014 and 2015, and has played in only 11 games in the last four years.
And now, after at least five trips to rehab and multiple second chances, the Browns welcomed him back only to have it blow up on them under mysterious circumstances. He showed up late to the team facility on Saturday, according to reports, complaining of a pulled hamstring that surprised his team. It apparently happened Friday night at a private photo shoot.
According to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, when team doctors examined him, "there was concern that perhaps he was struggling again with his sobriety or on the verge of relapsing."
That's when the Browns decided they were done.
So why would the Jets want to get involved with that? They are trying to build a young team, trying to develop character and chemistry, trying to eliminate as many problems as they can. It's not that Gordon is an irredeemable soul. But what would make the Jets think they're the ones who could save him?
After all, they've had more than enough of their share of suspensions and arrests and substance-abuse issues with their own players over the last year, haven't they? Why add Gordon to the mix?
Yes, he's a talent. Yes, he's only 27. But how does anyone know he can still be an elite player? Again, he's played in just 11 games since the 2013 season. He's caught 43 passes for 655 yards in that span. He's only scored a touchdown twice.
Could he suddenly find his sobriety, maintain it, stay out of trouble, and regain his form of 2013? Sure, anything is possible. And for a team that's just one receiver away from a Super Bowl championship, maybe it's worth the risk for a low-round pick. He makes sense in that regard for a Patriots team that's always thinking Super Bowl, and that clearly needs to bolster their offensive weapons.
They've also already established the culture and chemistry under Bill Belichick that other teams can only dream of having. Gordon will fit in immediately and the veterans in the locker room will make sure of that, otherwise he will immediately be gone.
For them, it really is no risk. But for a young, rebuilding team? Why have Sam Darnold build chemistry with a player who more likely than not won't be there when he needs them? Why not work to develop chemistry with Quincy Enunwa, Terrelle Pryor, Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson instead? Or maybe even ArDarius Stewart, who returned from his own suspension on Monday. Maybe one of them can become a No. 1 receiver somewhere down the road.
Adding a receiver like Gordon would be ideal. They need a big, talented receiver to grab the attention of opposing defenses. There's no sign that any of their other players will develop into a player like Gordon was in 2013.
But that was a long time ago, and it seems pretty clear that Gordon will never again be that player. It doesn't matter that the Patriots grabbed him or that he might even haunt the Jets this season.
The risk the Jets would have taken by trading for Gordon seemed far greater than any unlikely reward.