NASHVILLE, Tenn. — All during the offseason, by virtue of their draft picks and free agents, it seemed the New England Patriots were searching for another Josh Gordon.

Between N’Keal Harry, Demaryius Thomas, Dontrelle Inman and Jakobi Meyers, they looked for a Gordon prototype to add to the offense because of how well he served quarterback Tom Brady last year.

But when you come down to it, there’s only one Josh Gordon. There’s only one 6-foot-3, 225-pound beast who can do what he does on a football field.

And now he’s back.

Gordon was reinstated by the league on a conditional basis Friday after being suspended indefinitely last year by the NFL for multiple violations of the league’s substance abuse policy.

He didn’t play in Saturday night’s preseason game against Tennessee and won’t play Thursday against Carolina, but can rejoin the team starting Sunday for practices and meetings.


His issues with addiction are well-known and very serious. It’s not something that goes away just because he’s back in football. So just like last year when the Patriots acquired him from Cleveland, there are no guarantees.

But if Gordon can keep it together – the Patriots will no doubt again do their best to provide him the best possible environment and support – this is great news both for the team and the player.

Gordon caught 40 passes for 720 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games before being snagged by the league in December. He was able to establish a quick chemistry with Brady and show how much a monster receiver out on the perimeter can help in the offense.

Gordon not only caught balls down the sideline but was terrific over the middle. Now that Rob Gronkowski has retired, the Patriots need that kind of presence. Brady needs that kind of presence.

Mostly, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels needs someone to provide a counter for Julian Edelman.

Gordon just has to stay clean, which always has been the question.


But the NFL commissioner saw enough from Gordon to give him another chance. With help from the Patriots, it’s now up to Gordon to make it work.

Add him back into the mix and now you’re looking at an offense.

“Some years you might have three guys set, or four guys set, and I think this year we haven’t really had that,” Brady said Thursday, when asked about the uncertainty at wide receiver given all the departures, injuries and new people he’s been working in.

Having Gordon back changes all that.

Add a decent receiver group to a strong set of running backs and now you’re onto something. Put that together with a shutdown defense and the defending champs look unbeatable again.

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