The Patriots sent shockwaves with an in-season addition in 2018 who appeared primed to make a major contribution.
New England is now in the Super Bowl. But that addition is far from the team, and it sounds as though he might never return.
"He was a real good guy, and there was a connection," Patriots owner Robert Kraft said on NBC Sports Boston's Boston Sports Tonight. "Unfortunately, people like that need mentoring at a young age, but when it becomes addiction, addiction is something that is way beyond our... We gave him tremendous support on a daily basis, and he was worthy. But I think we as a society have to try to help these young people not to get addicted in the first place. And that's the sad part of this. He's a good guy -- a really good guy. It makes us sad."
Gordon's journey from Cleveland to New England should've paid massive dividends for a team in need of a deep threat. Gordon, when available, is among the league's most talented members of that department.
Problem is, he's rarely available.
Gordon's suspension on Dec. 20 came a short time after the receiver revealed he was stepping away from football to focus on his mental health. It was just the latest in a long line of suspensions for the troubled wideout, and the second leave he'd taken in 2018 alone, with his other removing him from the majority of training camp with the Browns.
Gordon's time might not be done, though. If the receiver can return and remain within the confines of the NFL's substance-abuse policy, he still brings plenty of potential to the field. He caught 40 passes for 720 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games with the Patriots, and that was while he dealt with a finger injury that made catching difficult.
Jonathan Kraft made the case for Gordon's character, saying the wideout was not disruptive or a locker-room problem:
"He didn't grow up with any support system," Patriots president Jonathan Kraft explained. "He saw other people doing it, and it gets back to the way we grew up -- and that doesn't mean that people don't get addicted from all walks of life -- but you get exposed to it in a whole different way when you come from where Josh Gordon came from. He is a very good kid."