Josh Gordon is back in Seattle and hoping he can get back in football.
Gordon, who played five games for the Seahawks last season, will be applying for reinstatement to the NFL soon, according to a report from Pro Football Talk on Thursday morning. That report came a day after Gordon tweeted that he was in Seattle, posting a picture of him working out on a local field.
Those two items might lead to the conclusion that Gordon could again be a Seahawk in the near future.
But exactly how the process will play out remains unclear.
First, as PFT notes, if Gordon is reinstated — and there’s no timeline for when a decision will be made — he becomes an unrestricted free agent and can sign with any team. The Seahawks picked up the rest of Gordon’s one-year deal when they claimed him off waivers Nov. 1, and that contract ran out and Gordon became a free agent in March.
And second, and more important, it’s hard to know what the NFL will decide.
Gordon was indefinitely suspended on Dec. 16 for using performance-enhancing substances and substances of abuse.
The PED suspension alone would cost Gordon four games under the league’s policy. Gordon missed the Seahawks’ final two regular-season games and the two playoff games, which apparently would all count as part of any suspension, contrary to some earlier reports. PED violations are typically a four-game suspension, so the NFL could rule that that punishment has been served. But that would still leave the NFL having to consider if there would be more games to serve for the violation for substances of abuse.
According to Gordon’s official NFL bio page, he has had six other suspensions by the NFL in his career for violating the substances-of-abuse policy, two for an entire season. He also had another that was from the Browns, meaning his suspension last year was the eighth total of his NFL career, which began in 2012.
ESPN.com previously reported that Gordon “is beholden to the old rules” regarding reinstatement, and not those included in the league’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which is a bit more lenient in its drug policy.
Whether the NFL would just consider what Gordon has already served enough — or at the least tacking on two more games for the PED violation — is hard to know, though Gordon’s history would certainly come into play.
PFT notes that the reinstatement this week of Aldon Smith, who signed with Dallas, “has created hope” that the NFL will “find a way” to get Gordon and Randy Gregory (who is also applying for reinstatement) back on the field.
Setting a suspension length would allow teams to know when Gordon would be available and allow him to sign a contract (players under suspension can take part in training camp, as Jarran Reed did last season).
Throughout his time in Seattle, the Seahawks spoke highly of Gordon, who was suspended following a mid-December win at Carolina in which he made a diving catch for a 58-yard gain that led to an early touchdown in an eventual 30-24 win. The thought is the team would be open to bringing him back if/when he’s available.
“We saw Josh really at a really high level the whole time he was here,’’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said the day the suspension was announced. “The work ethic he brought was one, but he was getting along with people and being good to work with and to talk to and all that, and to deal with on regular basis, really, he was great. We were not aware that there was anything to be concerned about other than the history, which we knew about.’’
Gordon, who finished with seven receptions for 139 yards in five games, said in an interview with a group of reporters a few days before his suspension that he’d love to return to Seattle.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Absolutely. I mean, that’s my hope, thinking optimistically. I think that’s anybody’s goal, any player’s goal, to try to find a place you can call home in all aspects.’’
While the Seahawks made some moves to solidify their receiving corps in the offseason, signing free agent Phillip Dorsett, bringing back David Moore as a restricted free agent and drafting Freddie Swain out of Florida, there’s always room for more.
Whether Gordon can find his way back to the Seahawks’ receiving room will take some time and a few more steps to figure out.