Just in time for the stretch run of the regular season and the playoffs, the Seahawks will get some reinforcement at receiver with the return of Josh Gordon.
The NFL announced Thursday that Gordon has been conditionally reinstated and will be eligible to play in the final two games of the regular season.
Gordon was indefinitely suspended last Dec. 16 by the league for violating policies on performance-enhancing drugs and substances of abuse. He had applied for reinstatement in June and had been waiting word since.
“Thankful,” Gordon, 29, tweeted shortly after the announcement.
The league’s statement laid out how his reinstatement and return will work: “NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell conditionally reinstated Seattle’s Josh Gordon, it was announced today. Gordon may begin COVID testing Friday, December 4 and may join the club on December 9 assuming negative tests. Gordon will be permitted to attend team meetings and individual meetings with coaching staff. He may also engage in individual workouts and strength and conditioning, but may not practice, travel with the team or attend games. On December 21 following the club’s Week 15 game, Gordon will be permitted to participate in practice and be eligible to play in the team’s final two regular season games.”
Gordon will be eligible to play against the Rams on Dec. 27 and against the 49ers on Jan. 3, as well as in any playoff games.
The NFL in essence suspended Gordon for a full 16-game regular season, which equals two other suspensions he has received during a career in which he has been suspended eight times by the league or his team.
Gordon became a free agent after the 2019 season, when he caught seven passes in five games for 139 yards for Seattle, and re-signed with the Seahawks in August. He has not counted against the active roster since then. Once he is eligible the team will have to make a move to put him on the 53-player roster.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson told media via Zoom that he was glad to get Gordon back.
“He’s an amazing receiver,” Wilson said Thursday. “A guy who was great for us last year. Made some great plays.”
Gordon was effective on third down, specifically in making two catches on third downs in the first game he played for Seattle last year, an overtime win at San Francisco. He also had a 58-yard reception against Carolina that was the second-longest of the season for Seattle.
Gordon said shortly after he signed with the Seahawks that he hoped to stay with the team long term and felt it was a place he could get his career back on track.
The suspension derailed those plans, though coach Pete Carroll said on the day the penalty was announced that Gordon would be welcomed back.
Wilson said he is glad to see Gordon get another chance.
“He did a tremendous job of really bonding with the guys, fitting in the right way,” Wilson said. “He was about the approach, he was studying his playbook, he was ready to roll. He made great plays for us, too. At the same time, he just fit in the right way.
” … Hopefully he does it this time the right way and everything else. It’s challenging. There’s real things in the world, and there are real challenges in life. I’m rooting for him to be able to overcome. Hopefully this time it’s better than the last time. That’s the reality that you pray for.”
Gordon was a first team All-Pro pick in 2013 with Cleveland when he had 87 receptions for 1,646 yards. But his career has been derailed by the suspensions, and he has played just 33 games since then.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Gordon has been living and training in the Seattle area since becoming a Seahawk. Seattle claimed him off waivers Nov. 1, 2019 from the Patriots after he played in six games for them in 2019, making 20 catches for 287 yards.
Gordon posted an Instagram video of himself working out within minutes of the news that he had been reinstated.
He will join the battle for playing time in Seattle’s receiving corps behind the starting duo of DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
David Moore has been Seattle’s primary No. 3 receiver this year and has 27 receptions for 331 yards and five touchdowns.
Rookie Freddie Swain has worked as Seattle’s No. 4 receiver (he has 10 receptions for 134 yards and one touchdown).
No other receiver on Seattle’s roster has a reception. Penny Hart has been the fifth receiver on the roster much of the season and has played in nine games.
Seattle signed free agent Phillip Dorsett II in the spring as a possible third receiver. But he has not played while battling a foot injury that required surgery. He remains on injured reserve.
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said after practice Thursday that he thinks Gordon will be able to get back into the competition for playing time in the receiver rotation quickly once eligible.
“He’s got some stuff that he’s got to do to catch up and get up to speed with the things we’re doing,” Schottenheimer said. “I don’t think that will be any problem. He’s as confident of a catcher as there is in the NFL — his hands and his ability to make plays in traffic separates him. I remember the play against Carolina on the big post route right where the ball is laid out there, Russell lays it out there, he goes and gets it, and he really only gets a couple of his fingertips on it, but unbelievable catch going to the ground. But more importantly, I’m just excited to see him. I can’t wait to have him back.”