The experiment is over. As it was always destined to be.
Wide receiver Josh Gordon left the New England Patriots Thursday, as he looks to focus on his mental health while staying away from the game yet again. Gordon, of course, has often been under the microscope of the NFL due to a plethora of substance abuse violations and suspensions, ever since his early days in the game.
So should it really have been a big surprise for the New England Patriots that Gordon has flaked once more? Not at all. That's why he only cost a fifth-rounder.
The Pats knew the risk they were taking, and now one of the worst outcomes possible has come to fruition.
Breaking: Patriots WR Josh Gordon announces he is stepping away from football to focus on his mental health. pic.twitter.com/NMueTrsMDd— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 20, 2018
New England knew all this when they traded a fifth-round pick to the Browns for Gordon this season. If it were clear that Gordon could stay on the field, Cleveland would've asked for a much better return for the star. Bill Belichick took one of his calculated risks on Gordon and it worked out for a while. But now it's over.
Josh Gordon facing potential suspension for violating terms of his conditional reinstatement under NFL drug policy, per @TomPelissero and @DanGrazianoESPN. Final punishment yet to be decided, but Gordon not expected to play again this season or maybe ever again.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 20, 2018
That's not to say that the whole project was a failure, though. Gordon put up over 700 yards and three TDs in 11 games for the Patriots. New England had one of the more productive receivers in the league, and for what return? A selection in 2019 that, at best, could become a viable backup?
It's a massive shame that the Patriots won't get to enjoy Gordon's exploits in the postseason. But they knew what they were getting into when they took this chance. Regrettably, the situation imploded at the worst possible time.