Rumors have been swirling that the New England Patriots are interested in the services of Cleveland Browns‘ second-year receiver Josh Gordon. A big-play receiver who caught 10 balls for 146 yards and a touchdown in his first action of the 2013 NFL season, Gordon is just what the Patriots need on the field after a start that has been plagued with a sub-par receiving corps.
While Gordon’s talent is obvious, it’s his off-field behavior that should have the Patriots worried about pulling off a deal. Even if the price is right — like say a fourth-round or even fifth-round draft pick — Gordon and his history of troubling behavior is a red flag the size of the Back Bay.
The last thing the Patriots need right now is to take on another player with questionable character issues. Gordon was suspended for the first two games of the season for a failed drug test and admits that he is on his last chance with the league. You have to hope that a young man like him can get the message and stay out of trouble, but the harsh reality is that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.
There was a time when the Patriots could take chances on players like Gordon. They had one of the strongest locker rooms in the league and had a way of either making problem players fall in line, or getting rid of them without it costing them very much.
With Gordon, even if New England can get him for a cheap price, the cost of him bottoming out will be far to high for a team already reeling from the public relations disaster that was the Aaron Hernandez situation this summer.
Sometimes things just come down to an evaluation of risk versus reward. The reward for getting Gordon in a trade and him working out is a marginal one, especially considering rookie receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson have looked better in each game. The improvement hasn’t come along as quickly as fans would like it, but it’s there.
The risk, on the other hand, is far too great. If Gordon comes to Foxboro and finds himself in more trouble with the league, or even worse the law, the team will find the hit to their reputation magnified.
The Patriots need better play at receiver this year. I’ve not been shy about them owing it to Tom Brady to put better weapons around him, but trading for a player with a checkered history just isn’t a smart move for them right now.