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What the Josh Gordon news means for the Patriots

New England’s wide receiver announced that he will step away from football on Thursday.

Minnesota Vikings v New England Patriots Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images

In the light of Thursday morning’s news that New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon would temporarily leave football and also face an indefinite suspension for violating the terms of his reinstatement, the most important thing is that the 27-year old gets all the support he needs to overcome the struggles that have followed him for years. The Patriots organization shared the same feelings in a statement earlier today — but simultaneously will have to deal with the consequences of Gordon leaving the team.

Let’s find out how those consequences look like and what the news means for the Patriots from a strictly on-field perspective.

New England loses one of its top-two wide receivers…

During his 11-game tenure with the Patriots, Gordon played 72% of the team’s offensive snaps and served as one of the team’s top two at the wide receiver position alongside Julian Edelman. In this role, he was targeted 68 times by quarterback Tom Brady and caught 40 passes for 720 yards — for 18.0 yards per reception, the highest in the NFL since joining the team — and three touchdowns. Gordon was a steady contributor for the Patriots ever since the team acquired him in late September.

…and will now have to replace him with one of their depth options

With Gordon no longer a part of the equation, the Patriots will have to find another wide receiver to fill his role. The most likely candidates are Chris Hogan, who served as the number three option behind Edelman and Gordon, and Cordarrelle Patterson. While the latter was mostly used on gadget and package-specific plays as of late, he might be called upon to help replace Gordon. Another name to keep in mind is Phillip Dorsett, who has served as a depth option since week four but has looked solid in limited action.

The Josh Gordon trade in itself will not be altered

The Patriots acquired Gordon and a seventh-rounder for a fifth-round selection from the Cleveland Browns in late September. While there was some confusion about the seventh-round pick potentially being tied to a certain set of conditions, NFL Network reported shortly afterwards that this was not the case. Ergo, trade will not be altered in any way due to Gordon leaving the team.

The receiver position is once again in the spotlight

While most of the offseason storylines focused on Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, the wide receiver position saw plenty of turnover as well. From the Patriots moving on from Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola, to the injuries suffered by Kenny Britt, Malcolm Mitchell and Jordan Matthews, to the trade acquisitions of Cordarrelle Patterson and Gordon himself, the group has seen a lot of movement over the last nine months. While it looked as if it had settled down as of late, today’s news puts the position in the spotlight again.