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Report: NFL suspended Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon for multiple offenses, but it’s possible he returns in 2019

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The wide receiver might be back next year.

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

On Thursday morning, news broke that New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon was temporarily stepping away from football to focus on his mental health. Shortly after the 27-year-old shared his announcement on social media, a later confirmed report came out that the NFL was indefinitely suspending Gordon for violating the terms of his reinstatement for substance abuse.

Earlier today, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport shed more light on the story and Gordon’s suspension:

Josh Gordon was suspended for multiple violations of the NFL-NFLPA substance abuse policy. It’s not like it was, says, one mis-test, it was multiple and from what I am also told it is more than marijuana. So, clearly, for Josh Gordon this exiting from football to focus on his health is something that is needed.

Gordon struggled with substance abuse for much of his NFL career and as a result was suspensions multiple times over the past few years: After leading the NFL in receiving yards in 2014, Gordon appeared in just eleven games between 2015 and getting traded from the Cleveland Browns to the Patriots in late September. Him proactively trying to get help and work on his mental health is clearly a step in the right direction.

How long this process will take and his suspension remain in place unclear at this point in time. According to Rapoport, however, there is a possibility that Gordon returns as early as next season:

As far as when he actually may be back, this is an indefinite suspension: he would have to show the NFL and show Roger Goodell that he is clean for a sustained period of time. Could he back possibly by the start of the 2019 season? From what I understand it is possible. It would, of course, be a little bit quick but it is possible for that to happen.

Since joining New England, Gordon has been a top-two wide receiver for the Patriots: He played 72% of the team’s offensive snaps and caught 40 passes for 720 yards and three touchdowns. After the season comes to an end, Gordon will hit restricted free agency, which means that there is a possibility that New England retains him.

That being said, the football perspective in all of this has to take a backseat: Gordon’s well-being certainly is more important than any potential on-field ramifications.