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Patriots WR Josh Gordon suspended indefinitely by NFL

Gordon also released a statement indicating he was taking time away from the game to focus on his mental health.

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

It appears that Josh Gordon’s time with the Patriots, and perhaps the NFL, has come to an end. Gordon tweeted Thursday that he was going to take some time away from football to work on his mental health.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero later reported that Gordon was facing an “indefinite suspension for violating the terms of his reinstatement under the substance abuse policy.”

Gordon was officially added to the Reserve/Commissioner Suspended list on Thursday afternoon.

The Patriots released a statement acknowledging Gordon’s decision and respecting Gordon’s privacy at the time.

Gordon didn’t test positive marijuana and did not appeal the suspension according to Jay Glazer. There’s a chance that Gordon could come back for 2019.

Gordon will finish the season with 40 catches for 720 yards and 3 touchdowns in 11 games.

What does this mean for Josh Gordon?

This is the fifth suspension for Gordon in his career and potentially his final moment with the NFL. He won’t be able to play or practice for the team while he’s on suspension.

Gordon delayed his start to the season for similar reasons in the summer. He returned to the Browns in mid-August. The team traded him to the Patriots after Week 1.

Gordon has yet to start all 16 games in a season during his career. He started 14 games in 2013 and led the league with 1,646 receiving yards and 117.6 receiving yards per game. He missed the entire 2016 and 2017 seasons due to a suspension for violating the substance abuse policy as well.

What does this mean for the Patriots?

This is bad news for a suddenly mortal Tom Brady. New England’s thin receiving corps was an albatross for the reigning MVP’s offense early in the season, before Gordon was acquired from Cleveland and Julian Edelman returned from a four-game suspension. The Patriots averaged just 220 passing yards per game while relying on Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Phillip Dorsett as the team’s top wideouts — 70 fewer yards than Brady’s averaged each week since 2011.

That offense picked up thanks to the addition of Gordon and the return of Edelman, but hasn’t been the world-beater of years past thanks to diminished returns from All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski and a slight decline from Brady, who is in the midst of his least productive season since 2013. Even so, Gordon was a major part of the team’s six-game winning streak midway through the season, hauling in 22 catches for 396 yards and two touchdowns in that span and, more importantly, stretching the field as a deep threat and allowing Edelman, Patterson, and Gronkowski to work efficiently between the hashmarks.

Losing Gordon takes away that vertical threat, putting Brady’s deep-ball hopes on the shoulders of Hogan and Dorsett. Hogan proved his worth as a big play target in 2016, leading the league with 17.9 yards per reception in a breakout season, but he hasn’t been able to perform up to that standard in the two seasons since; his 2.1 receptions per game this fall are his lowest since he was a little-targeted backup in Buffalo back in 2013, though he came on strong to catch his team’s only touchdown in a 17-10 loss to Pittsburgh last week.

Dorsett is more of a question mark. The former first-round pick has the straight line speed to be a burner, but he’s failed to turn his potential into production as a pro. He’s earned Brady’s trust in his two seasons in New England, catching 78 percent of his targets since being freed from Indianapolis, but he’s been a little-used piece of the Patriot offense. He’s got just 27 catches for 256 yards this fall.

If Hogan and Dorsett can’t step up, Brady will turn to Edelman and Gronkowski to serve as his work horses once again. Gronkowski, a gamebreaking threat at his best, has had a muted impact while battling injuries in his ninth season as a pro. He’s no longer an unstoppable force, as Pittsburgh proved by limiting him to just two catches for 21 yards last week. Fortunately for the Patriots, Edelman remains pretty much the same player he’s always been — though he’ll be facing more double-teams now that Gordon is no longer taunting opposing safeties with his speed on the opposite sideline.

Gordon’s impact in the Patriots offense was inconsistent, but at his best he was a field-stretching presence who was a rising tide for an entire passing game. He’s gone for the foreseeable future, and now New England needs someone to step up and make plays in the face of tightened coverage as Brady prepares for what may be his toughest playoff journey yet.

All of this is, however, inconsequential compared to the importance of Gordon being able to find treatment and get his life on track.