Josh Gordon's tenure with the New England Patriots is over. The Patriots are reportedly in the process of releasing Gordon from injured reserve, which will subject the former Pro Bowl wide receiver to waivers before he can become a free agent.
Gordon did pass his exit physical with New England, so he is, in fact, healthy as he now enters waivers, according to Albert Breer of the MMQB. The receiver's release off injured reserve was made official on Thursday, per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, so he'll have a new team on Friday.
New England waited to release Gordon after the trade deadline purposefully. Had they done it beforehand, he would have been an unrestricted free agent and could possibly join a contender that is competing against the Patriots in the AFC. Now, he'll be subject to waivers. The Cincinnati Bengals will have the first priority to claim Gordon with an 0-8 record with the Miami Dolphins second at 0-7 and the Washington Redskins third at 1-7. The incentive for those types of teams to acquire Gordon is the compensatory pick that could come if he leaves in free agency this offseason.
Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Gordon hopes to land in a "good, supportive situation."
Once his release becomes official, it brings an end to an eventful 17-game stint with the team. His first season with the Pats ended prematurely after he was suspended by the league, finishing with 40 catches for 720 yards and three touchdowns. Gordon was reinstated prior to Week 1 and finished with 20 catches for 287 yards and a touchdown in six games before New England placed him on injured reserve with a knee injury.
Gordon has 240 catches for 4,113 yards and 20 touchdowns in seven NFL seasons with the Cleveland Browns and the New England Patriots, averaging 17.4 yards per catch. Gordon led the NFL in receiving yards in 2013 with 1,646, a year which he finished with 87 catches and nine touchdowns. He made the All-Pro team and earned his lone Pro Bowl selection. Gordon has been suspended five times by the NFL, two games in 2013 for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, 10 games in 2014 for the same violation and the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons for a third offense. He was finally reinstated in Week 13 of the 2017 season and played the final five games for Cleveland. Gordon played one game for the Browns in 2018 before the team decided to trade him after he "violated the team's trust," which led to his trade to the Patriots.
If Gordon is claimed by a team off waivers (which is highly likely), that team would take on the final nine weeks of his deal which is $1.072 million, per ESPN's Field Yates. Gordon would be a free agent after the season, so a team would have him for the remainder of this season and the exclusive negotiating rights before he hits free agency into March. If Gordon goes unclaimed, he can sign with any team.
Teams will certainly be interested in Gordon, especially if they can make a playoff run with him on the roster. The Super Bowl contenders may not be able to claim Gordon, but a fringe playoff team could certainly entertain his services.