SEATTLE – The following two things are indisputable.
The first: Josh Gordon really likes weed. He might like it more than anyone else in football.
The receiver has failed drug test after drug test, and has missed season after season, all because he has struggled to abide by the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
The second: Pete Carroll isn’t afraid of players’ pasts. He may fear them less than anyone else in football.
The Seahawks coach has welcomed an array of personnel with checkered histories and has repeatedly received top-level production from them.
On Friday, the Seahawks claimed Gordon off waivers after 27 other teams passed on him. They took a chance on a former Pro Bowler because they felt he would enhance their roster.
This is partly a testament to Gordon’s talent, but it’s more a reflection of Pete’s mentality. Any baggage that a player accrued took place in B.C. – Before Carroll.
What were your thoughts on the 2012 Seahawks drafting defensive end Bruce Irvin, who had been arrested (but never prosecuted) for burglary, carrying a concealed weapon and destruction of property before turning pro?
How about three years later, when they picked defensive end Frank Clark, who had been arrested (but never charged) for a domestic-violence count that got him dismissed from the Michigan football team?
Or what about last year, when they signed linebacker Mychal Kendricks a week after he pleaded guilty to insider training?
For varying reasons, there would have been cause for concern with any of those guys. But if we’re talking results between the lines, all three were worthwhile acquisitions.
Irvin tallied 22 sacks in his four years in Seattle before signing a $37 million deal with the Raiders. Clark collected 35 sacks in four years – including 13 last season – before being traded to the Chiefs and signing a $105.5 million deal. Kendricks was productive in his four games last year, has started all eight games this year, and had a key interception versus the Falcons last week.
Perhaps many of you still have ethical concerns over whether the Seahawks should have brought any of these guys on. That’s OK. But you can’t say they didn’t help the team’s cause.
Carroll said he was surprised Gordon lasted as long as he did on the waiver wire, and I have to agree. He is a 6-foot-3, 225-pound 28-year-old who led the NFL in receiving yards six years ago.
He isn’t a financial burden (the Seahawks will pick up the remainder of his one-year, $2.05 million contract), and there isn’t much proof he is a locker-room distraction. It’s possible the Oct. 10 knee injury that caused the Patriots to put him on the injured-reserve list is still an issue – but the main deterrent seems to be his struggles with pot.
If I’m Carroll, I’m taking that risk. I’m looking at a major red-zone threat who had 20 receptions for 287 yards in his six games with New England this year. I’m seeing a guy who really, really can’t afford another drug violation, lest he kiss his career goodbye. And I’m looking at my track record with other troubled players and am going all-in on this gamble.
Obviously, the Seahawks have made some regrettable investments. Percy Harvin and Malik McDowell are the among the names that come to mind. But most of the time, Carroll and the Seahawks complete their reclamation projects.
Gordon will not be in the lineup Sunday versus Tampa Bay, but if he resembles anything close to his old self for the rest of the season, the Seahawks should have one of the most dynamic offenses in the league.
With him, Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, quarterback Russell Wilson has a delectable menu of receivers.
Yes, Gordon’s history suggests this could all come to a halt with one random drug test. But Carroll’s history says otherwise. He bet on Gordon with this signing, but really, he bet on himself.
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