NFL reinstates Josh Gordon, clearing Patriots wide receiver to return for 2019 regular season

Less than a month before the kickoff of their 2019 regular season, the New England Patriots have received a big-name reinforcement for their offense -- the same one that was indefinitely banned from the NFL in December.

As ESPN's Adam Schefter reported and the NFL confirmed Friday, suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon has been reinstated and is expected to rejoin the team immediately.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has already notified Gordon of the decision, according to a league statement, with the reinstatement remaining effective on the condition the former Pro Bowl pass-catcher makes "appropriate progress on clinical care and other arrangements." Gordon, of course, had been suspended for a repeat violation of the NFL's drug policy, and the receiver himself vowed just before his latest punishment to step away from the game while focusing on his mental health.

"We are all rooting for Josh to succeed, both personally and professionally," Goodell said in the statement. "Everyone shares in that hope and will continue to support him to every extent possible. But as Josh acknowledged, ultimately his success is up to him."

Gordon will not be eligible to play in the Patriots' third preseason game on Thursday, Aug. 22, per the NFL release, but he has been fully cleared to return to the field for New England's regular season. However, Bill Belichick's statement on Saturday shows the team isn't jumping the gun on working Gordon into the offensive gameplan.

"For the past eight months, Josh's situation has been entirely a league matter," Belichick said. "When Josh returns to our program, we will evaluate the entire situation and do what we feel is best for Josh and the team."  

Gordon's potential return bodes well for the Pats' wide receiver corps, which has been limited this offseason thanks to injuries to big names like Julian Edelman and Demaryius Thomas, but even more notably, it marks yet another potential comeback for a player who's virtually become the poster boy for crackdowns by the league office.

A 2013 Pro Bowler who ranked third on the Patriots in receiving yards in 2018 despite playing just 11 games, Gordon has faced discipline for substance abuse dating back to his college days at Baylor. A one-time 1,600-yard receiver with the Cleveland Browns, he entered the NFL via the Supplemental Draft after transferring to Utah following an indefinite suspension for marijuana use and has received four different suspensions, including two initial yearlong bans, from the NFL. He was previously reinstated in 2016, playing four games before entering in-patient treatment; as well as in 2017, when he played five games before being traded to the Patriots the following year.

CBS Sports Writer

Cody Benjamin joined CBS Sports in 2017 after time spent with SB Nation, various newspapers and his own Eagles outlet. Raised around the Philly sports scene, he now lives in Minnesota with his wife and... Full Bio

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