The NFL announced on Monday that Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has been officially reinstated and is eligible to play in the 2016 season after serving a four-game suspension. Gordon's reinstatement is conditional, but he is permitted to participate in training camp and play in preseason games.
"I'm blessed and grateful to be granted this opportunity," Gordon tweeted. "I can’t wait to get back out there and play the game I love in front of the great fans of Cleveland. I want to thank the NFLPA, Commissioner Goodell, the Haslam family and Browns organization, my agent Drew Rosenhaus, as well as my mentors for their continuous support along the way.
"I've heard only good things from my teammates about the positive direction the organization is heading and I want to do everything I can to be there to help further that process not only for the team but to better myself as well. Thank you."
Gordon will be permitted to join the Browns right away and participate in meetings and conditioning work. He will be cleared to begin practicing "once arrangements have been confirmed regarding Gordon's clinical resources in Cleveland," according to a statement from the NFL.
Roger Goodell indicated that Gordon understands it's on him to take control of his own future.
"Countless others including your agent, teammates and coaches, Mr. Haslam and the leadership of the organization, the Program professionals and Jim Brown also have pledged to provide you with every resource at their disposal," Goodell said. "But as you acknowledged, ultimately, your future is your responsibility. I have every belief that you can make the right choices, but it will be up to you to do so."
Gordon was suspended indefinitely last February for multiple violations of the league's substance abuse policy. The four-game suspension facing Gordon at the start of the 2016 season is his fourth in as many years.
After pleading guilty to a DUI charge in September of 2014, Gordon was required to submit to alcohol testing as part of the league's mandated program. He then failed an alcohol test last January, violating his no-alcohol restriction and triggering the indefinite suspension.
Gordon applied for reinstatement in February and he could have been reinstated within 60 days of that reinstatement, but it was reported in April that Gordon had failed another drug test. This one tested positive for marijuana, though it was under the threshold for a positive test, but the presence of a diluting agent automatically made the test positive.
At that point, it was only reported that this wouldn't necessarily trigger another yearlong suspension, but that commissioner Roger Goodell was still considering his options in the wake of the positive test.
Gordon was originally suspended for the entire 2014 campaign following a failed drug test, but his penalty was later reduced to 10 games after the NFL revised its substance abuse regulations. He was also suspended by the Browns for the season finale in 2014 after he was late for a pregame walk-through.
The troubled wideout has a history of drug problems. He received a two-game suspension in 2013 for a failed drug test, and was let go from the Baylor football team in 2011 after he tested positive for marijuana while in school.
When Gordon has been on the field, he's one of the league's most electrifying playmakers. In 2013 he led the NFL with a franchise-record 1,646 receiving yards despite playing in only 14 games, and caught nine touchdown passes. That year, he also set the Browns' single-game record for receiving yards (261) and tied the single-game mark for receptions (14).
However, he was disappointing in the limited action he saw in 2014 after returning from his suspension in late November. He topped 100 yards receiving just once, and averaged 60.6 receiving yards per game in five games.
Still, Gordon is immensely talented and the Browns could surely use his help at wide receiver, especially after Travis Benjamin signed with the San Diego Chargers during free agency. He would be a huge upgrade for the team's offense, which struggled mightily last year, ranking 30th in points scored and 25th in yards gained.
However, it is unknown whether they would even be willing to have him back on the roster. Speaking at his introductory news conference in January, new head coach Hue Jackson was non-committal about his plans for Gordon.
"What I'm anxious to do is evaluate him just like we're going to evaluate every player on our roster and see if they are the right fit for the Cleveland Browns," said Jackson. "That's what we have to do with every player, whether that's Josh Gordon to whoever the last guy is on the roster."
If he does return to the Browns, he will be under contract for $1.068 million and can become a restricted free agent after the 2016 season. And if he does return to the Browns, he will likely have Robert Griffin III throwing him the football. The Browns signed Griffin in free agency and his contract looks like the Browns expect him to be able to play.
Gordon also took to Twitter to say that it would be "nice" to reunite with his former Baylor teammate.
Gordon was taken in the 2012 NFL Supplemental Draft by the Browns. In 35 career games, the 25-year-old has 161 receptions for 2,754 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.
If Gordon returns in Week 5, it will be a high-profile game. The Browns are set to play the New England Patriots, when Tom Brady is also expected to return from his four-game suspension.