Right now, the Philadelphia Eagles have a tremendous amount of positions to fill. Cornerback, offensive line, defensive line and running back are just a few. There may be one position that needs to be addressed more than the others though, and that is wide receiver.
So far this off season, the Eagles have made moves to improve that group heading into next year. Signing speedster Torrey Smith and play-making big man Alshon Jeffery, both to one-year deals, will certainly give Carson Wentz guaranteed weapons. There is certainly more work to be done at the position, especially to build for the future. The draft is the easiest way to go about it, but I believe there is one option the Eagles should pursue that has the potential to pay enormous dividends: trade for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon.
The Philadelphia Eagles Should Trade for Josh Gordon
I don’t think there has been a player in the NFL the last five years with so much talent, but so many off the field issues as Gordon. We cannot forget what he did in his second full season in the NFL in 2013. In just 14 games, he caught 87 passes for nine touchdowns and led the league in receiving yards with 1,646, all while being named a Pro Bowler and a First-Team All-Pro next to the great Calvin Johnson. On an abysmal Cleveland team with quarterbacks Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, and Brian Hoyer, he lit up defenses and made the Browns offense dangerous.
For all that explosiveness and talent, however, he has had far too many off the field problems in his life. In college at Baylor, he was suspended for testing positive for marijuana, before he was suspended the first two games of his magical 2013 season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. In 2014, he was initially suspended the whole season for a second substance-abuse violation, but after an appeal it was reduced to 10 games. In that season, he only played five games after violating team rules.
Before the 2015 season, he tested positive for alcohol abuse and was suspended for the whole year. Going into 2016, he failed a drug test and was given a four-game suspension. Gordon was reinstated before the season began, but right before Week Five when his suspension was up, he decided to leave the Browns and check into a rehabilitation facility for his abuse problems. At this point, his reinstatement was reversed and as of now he is still on leave.
Things are looking up for him though. Gordon applied for reinstatement again in March of this year after he was done in rehab, and his business agent has said he is in a great place mentally right now. Physically speaking, he is working very hard to come back and is in the best shape of his life. Additionally, he has not had any run-ins with the law or gotten in trouble since last year and is trending upwards.
The Browns have held onto him after all these problems, most likely because his value and production are too high to let go and they still believe he can be changed into an everyday player again. Although, if a team comes asking for him they will certainly listen. It looks very good that he will be reinstated before the season starts again and for a variety reasons, the Eagles should acquire him.
The Team Situations
Sometimes, players need a change of scenery to fully grow into their potential. The Hall of Famer Cris Carter did this when he was released by the Eagles in the 1980s after multiple substance abuse problems. Carter ultimately went to Minnesota and blossomed into one of the best receivers in NFL history. Now, by no means am I saying Gordon will become the next Carter. Their situations are too eerily similar though and right now, getting out of Cleveland where winning seems so far away may do wonders for his confidence and attitude.
In this scenario he would be going to a team with a franchise quarterback to build around in Wentz. The aforementioned Smith is a Super Bowl winning wide receiver with speed like Gordon’s, and Jeffery is a Pro Bowl big man who can show Gordon other facets of his game to work on. The Eagles are only getting better while Cleveland has a history of questionable decisions and their future looks cloudy.
Not to mention, Gordon on Cleveland this year would immediately be their top guy coming into the season, and would receive more coverage and attention. In Philly, he would be at least the number two receiver behind Jeffery and he could pair up very well with Smith as burners. Theres’s no doubt that he would have less attention and thrive down the field more.
Gordon has one more year left on his contract and he is only slated to make one million dollars next year. The Eagles right now have just under two million dollars in cap space and could fit him in, before he would ultimately become a restricted free agent at the end of the season. This means the Eagles would give him one year to perform and return to old form and they would not have to worry about holding on to him if things go wrong. If he never got his game going or was forced to miss time, they could just let him walk. If they want to retain him after the year if he does well, it would be much easier to keep him by matching another team’s contract if it came to that.
It would also be easy to trade for him. The Browns won’t be asking for a whole lot on a player with previous drug and alcohol issues and would take decent value back to deal him. The Eagles would only have to give up a third or fourth-round pick at most in a package deal.
The Upside for Both Parties
In Gordon’s case, this would be his last chance to prove it in the NFL. If he never got his game back to solid levels, ran into trouble again, or missed time for other reasons, that would be it. Teams would never trust him again. Not only is this a contract year for Josh Gordon, it’s a career-dependent year. You can imagine that his motivation to perform well and stay on the field will be sky high.
The Eagles have nothing to lose here. Acquire Gordon for cheap and gain a potential All-Pro talent. You give him all the help he needs on the field to succeed and you support him off the field to become a better person. If it doesn’t pan out, dump him and move on. Gordon’s off the field issues are significant and the Eagles should be ready to abandon his ship at any moment. If it works out for the Eagles though, this could be the steal of the century. It’s pure low risk, super high reward for Philly.