The Cleveland Browns and their fans can breath a collective sigh of relief now.
After taking a leave of absence from the team to focus on his mental health, wide receiver Josh Gordon returned to the team on Saturday.
In a statement, Gordon said that he understands the road ahead won’t be an easy road, but he is going to give the Browns everything he has.
“As I humbly return to being a member of this team with an opportunity to get back to playing this game I love, I realize in order for me to reach my full potential my primary focus must remain on my sobriety and mental well-being,” Gordon said.
Gordon, who is a top-five receiver in the NFL when healthy, has gone through his ups and downs over the last few seasons. After multiple violations of the NFL’s substance policy, Gordon was suspended by the NFL for nearly three full seasons before being reinstated in the middle of last season. In five games last season, Gordon caught 18 passes for 335 yards and a touchdown, showing the potential that made him a feared threat.
Initially, the Browns’ coaching staff and management had been preparing for the possibility that Gordon wasn’t going to come back. However, general manager John Dorsey is thankful to see him back, and doesn’t plan to rush Gordon right into the fray.
“First off, we are pleased for Josh. His overall health and well-being is what is most important. We commend Josh for his hard work, commitment and focus on becoming the best version of himself,” Dorsey said.
“We are glad Josh has reached a point where he can return to our organization, be in our building and be around his teammates. As he assimilates back to our team, Josh will initially participate in meetings and conditioning and will gradually resume all football activities as deemed appropriate.”
If you are the Browns, the news of Gordon coming back has to give you hope. One, Gordon is coming back to a team that is fairly loaded on the offensive end. The team drafted quarterback Baker Mayfield and running back Nick Chubb in the first two rounds of the 2018 draft, then picked up quarterback Tyrod Taylor from Buffalo to guide Mayfield.
To assist Gordon on the receiving end now are fourth-round draftee Antonio Callaway and former Miami Dolphins standout (and three-time Pro Bowler) Jarvis Landry. And if reports are accurate, there is a good chance that former Dallas Cowboy Dez Bryant could be lining up with them as well.
On the defensive side, the Browns finished in the top 10 in run defense last season, and were ranked 14th overall. Despite their abysmal 0-16 record, the defense kept the team in most games last season. And now, the offense has enough firepower to give Cleveland a fighting chance every game. If Gordon is able to produce at the Pro Bowl-level caliber he was at in 2013, the Browns won’t be the welcome mat in the AFC North anymore.