New England Patriots

By Matt McCarthy,

There are absolutely no guarantees that Josh Gordon will work out for the Patriots, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a no-brainer to give it a shot.

The Patriots completed a trade for the uber-talented but troubled wide receiver on Monday, sending a fifth round pick to Cleveland after the Browns apparently had enough of Gordon after six roller-coaster seasons in the organization.

Gordon could be one of the best weapons Tom Brady has had in a long, long time. Or he could be cut in two weeks and never heard from again.

Good luck trying to predict how this move will work out.

On one hand, it would be foolish to count on any meaningful contributions from a wide receiver that has played just 11 games out of a possible 66 since 2013 for a variety of issues, including a year-long suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

But the talent is tantalizing. If Gordon manages to get on the field, he could change the makeup of this Patriots offense in a remarkable way.

Gordon lined up next to Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman? Sign me up.

Dec 10, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) celebrates his touchdown reception against the Green Bay Packers during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

This isn’t the first time the Patriots have added a supremely talented player who has dealt with issues in previous NFL stops. Fans will be quick to point to Randy Moss and Corey Dillon and will suggest that Gordon will be the next success story in this mold.

But Moss and Dillon were malcontents in Oakland and Cincinnati and neither dealt with the lengthy history of substance abuse and mental health challenges Gordon has faced. There should be no assumption that a change of scenery will do wonders for Gordon the way it seemingly did for Moss and Dillon.

For every Randy Moss and Corey Dillon, there’s an Albert Haynesworth. If Gordon were anything close to a safe bet, he would’ve been traded for a heck of a lot more.

The Patriots also have a lengthy history of bringing in big-name veteran wide receivers only to have them not catch on in the offense. Chad Ochocinco, Torey Holt, Joey Galloway…need I go on?

Additionally, the list of successful wide receivers the Patriots have brought in after the start of a season is a short one. Only Jabar Gaffney in 2006 and Deion Branch’s return to New England in 2010 come to mind. For every Gaffney, there are a million Michael Floyd’s or Kenny Britt’s.

But none of the receivers the Patriots have brought in late have had Gordon’s talent. Just ask Aqib Talib:

It’s hard not to look at a play like that and think about the possibilities Gordon’s addition could bring. There is a reason he put up an NFL-best 1,646 receiving yards in only 14 games in 2013.

There’s no denying his talent on the field, but the best ability is dependability. That’s the only ability Gordon lacks.

All things considered, it’s worth a shot. Josh Gordon just became the most exciting unknown quantity the Patriots have had in a long time.

You can hear Matt McCarthy on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.