Should the Houston Texans consider Josh Gordon if reinstated

ANALYSIS Houston Texans

Josh Gordon, an All-Pro receiver in 2013, filed for reinstatement last Wednesday seeking another chance in the NFL. In December, the league suspended the 29-year-old wide receiver for violating its substance-abuse policy for the fifth time since 2013.

In an interview with his lawyer, Adam Kenner, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network announced that Gordon’s most recent relapse in 2019 was due to the death of his brother. Since that time, Gordon has installed the right team around him to make sure he stays on the right path.

If the league grants his request, Gordon will enter the free agency pool as an unrestricted free agent. He spent the 2019 season as a member of the Seattle Seahawks, recording seven receptions for 139 yards (19.9 AVG) in five games prior to his suspension.

Gordon is still one of the most gifted players in the league despite playing only 63 games in a span of eight seasons. He has tallied a career 4,252 reception yards (17.2 AVG) on 247 catches and 20 touchdowns, after the Cleveland Browns selected the Baylor prodigy in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

Nearly all 32 teams could use Gordon’s on-field talent to enhance their roster, but only a handful should risk adding the 6-foot-3 wide receiver given his off-field troubles. Of all the teams who should look to acquire the low-risk-high-reward receiver, the Houston Texans should be near the top of the list.

Joining his hometown town team may be enough to keep the Houston native in good measures both on and off the field, while contributing to the Texans’ potential success in 2020.

Houston lost a lot this offseason by trading DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. Not only did they lose arguably the league’s best receiver, but their No. 1 target since 2014. Head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien did a reasonable job rebuilding the receiving core, but the additions of Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks may not be enough to fill the absence left by Hopkins’ jettison.

In 2019, Cobb and Cooks recorded a combined 1,411 receiving yards (14.5 AVG) on 97 catches with five trips to the end zone. When compared to Hopkins, the four-time Pro-Bowler pulled down 104 catches for 1,165 receiving yards (11.2 AVG) and seven touchdowns in what was considered a “down season” last year.

If the Texans were to sign Gordon, he would be another substantial option who can further O’Brien’s attempt to replace Hopkins. As a deep threat receiver who can create plays in double-coverage, Gordon possesses the skill set that would make him Houston’s most talented wideout, and one that complements the play style of Deshaun Watson.

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In his lone All-Pro season in 2013, Gordon showcased flashes of his high ceiling with 1,646 receiving yards (18.9 AVG) on 87 receptions and nine touchdowns in 14 games. That same season, he became the first player in league history to record 200 or more receiving yards in back-to-back games as a member of the Browns.

Even in the most troublesome years of his career, Gordon was still a force to be reckoned with while on the field. Prior to his suspension, he posted a total of 1,007 receiving yards (16.2 AVG) on 60 catches in 17 games, during his two-year stint as a member of the New England Patriots.

With D-Hop out of the picture, Will Fuller has the opportunity to become Houston’s No. 1 receiver. He has ingrained himself as the Texans’ best playmaker averaging 14.3 yards per catch in 42 career games. Unfortunately, his ability to stay healthy makes it unenviable for Fuller to play a full 16-game season. Since 2017, he has only appeared in 28 out of a possible 48 games played due to a myriad of injuries.

There are also health concerns surrounding Kenny Stills (hamstring) and Cooks (concussion) — as the two receivers batted recurring injuries that limited their on-field production in 2019.

Health is the most vital concern surrounding the Texans’ receiving core next season. And at this stage of his career, Houston should be willing to pay no more than the expected $2.0 million to sign Gordon as an affordable insurance policy. If either of the Texans’ four receivers misses a significant amount of time due to injuries, Gordon can fill a void that will be a daunting task for the likes of Isaiah Coulter, Keke Coutee and DeAndre Carter.

With the amount of time missed due to multiple suspensions, Gordon may never live up to the high expectations he set during his first two seasons in the league. However, when mentally stable, he has been a constant nightmare for the opposing teams’ secondary throughout his career. 

And if given the opportunity to join the likes of Cobb, Cooks, Fuller and Stills, the Texans will have multiple weapons heading into the new season while helping Gordon re-establish himself as one of the league’s most prolific receivers.

(Photo Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports)


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