On Friday afternoon, the NFL announced that New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon had been reinstated from his indefinite suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The 28-year-old was allowed to rejoin the team on Sunday, and today he was added to its roster — at least in limited fashion: according to ESPN’s Field Yates, New England placed Gordon on the non-football injury list (NFI).
The NFI distinction is similar to the physically unable to perform list (PUP): players can be activated at any time before early September’s roster cutdowns and still count against the 90-man roster limit. Furthermore, if they do not get cleared to return before cutdown day, they will move from active/NFI to reserve/NFI and have to sit out at least the first six weeks of the season. If they don’t return at that point, their season will end on NFI.
The two major differences between the two reserve lists concern the timing of injuries — NFI deals with injuries suffered off the football field, PUP with those suffered during team activities — and financial compensation: teams have the right to not pay base salary to players on the NFI list. In Gordon’s case this is not expected to become an issue, though, as he will likely join the ‘regular’ team sooner rather than later.
With Gordon now counting against the 90-man team, the Patriots needed to make a move, and they did: the reigning world champions released veteran wide receiver Dontrelle Inman to create space on the roster for Gordon. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Inman’s agent requested his release following the news of Gordon’s reinstatement. New England granted the wish of Inman’s camp and has now parted ways with the 30-year-old.
Inman originally joined the Patriots in mid-May on a one-year, $1.5 million free agency contract. However, he was one of the disappointments of spring workouts and training camp: the veteran never was able to carve out a consistent role in the team’s offense and as a result was buried on the depth chart. During preseason so far, he caught just three passes for 40 yards while mostly playing with New England’s second and third string offense.