CLEVELAND -- After being unable to consummate a deal ahead of the NFL Trade Deadline, the Cleveland Browns got a bit of good news when the National Football League reinstated wide receiver Josh Gordon on Wednesday night.

Terms of the reinstatement are conditional, and Gordon will be eligible to return to game action on Sunday, December 3 at the Los Angeles Chargers. Gordon can return to practice on Monday, November 20, but can attend meetings and go through individual workouts immediately.

Despite not playing in the NFL in nearly three years because of multiple suspensions, there are reasons to be optimistic about Gordon’s future should the Browns activate him at any point in the final month of the regular season.


Since his Pro Bowl year of 2013, Gordon has been suspended for 41 consecutive games dating back to the final week of the 2014 season, which was a team ban for reportedly missing a walk-through prior to a trip to Baltimore to play the Ravens.

Gordon has been suspended for a total of 53 career games, 52 of which were NFL bans for positive drug and alcohol tests.

Gordon’s 2015 ban came as a result of a violation of a league-imposed censure on alcohol as part of his reinstatement from a 10-game suspension in the final weeks of the 2014 regular season.

Gordon returned to the Browns on Monday, November 17, 2014, after serving the league-mandated 10-game suspension for a failed drug test, but after a Week 16 appearance, he has not returned to an NFL field.


Football aside, Gordon had plenty of work to do on himself before worrying about restarting his NFL career, and he seemingly did that.

Originally, Gordon was to serve a four-game ban before being eligible to play in 2016, but he checked into a rehabilitation facility just prior to his return citing a relapse after finding out the status of a paternity test and remained suspended for the balance of the season.

Gordon was denied reinstatement by the NFL in April of 2016, and again in May of 2017, but owner Jimmy Haslam and Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown went to bat for the talented, yet troubled wide receiver with the league office.

The owner of the franchise and the most recognizable former player do not put their reputations on the line for someone they are not confident in.


Since joining the Browns through a second-round pick in the 2012 NFL Supplemental Draft, Gordon has turned 161 catches into 2,754 yards and 14 touchdowns.

A Pro Bowl player in 2013, Gordon set a franchise record with an NFL-best 1,646 yards on 87 receptions with nine of those catches going for touchdowns after missing the first two games of the season because of a suspension. His yardage total, average yards per game (117.6), 18.9 yards per reception and 95-yard touchdown were NFL bests.


Trailing the Jacksonville Jaguars, 25-21, with 4:06 to play in the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 1, 2013, the Browns had a first-and-10 from their own five-yard line, and they trusted quarterback Brandon Weeden to make a play with his arm, and he went to Gordon.

Weeden threw a 17-yard pass to Gordon, who was tightly covered by a Jacksonville defensive back, and the Pro Bowl receiver still was able to make the catch.

After shaking off the defensive back, Gordon broke free along the numbers on the right side of the field. Despite two Jaguars defenders closing in on him at midfield, the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Gordon used his long strides to create space and finish off the 95-yard touchdown.

Gordon ended the game against the Jaguars with a single-game franchise record 261 yards receiving and two scores on 10 receptions.

Earlier in the season, the Browns trailed the Buffalo Bills, 24-17, with 5:40 to play in the third quarter. The Browns had a first-and-10 from Buffalo’s 37-yard line, and Weeden lofted the ball toward Gordon down the left sideline.

Tracking the ball the whole way, Gordon was able to get behind a Bills cornerback at the 20-yard line, got his hands on the ball three yards deep in the end zone, had it ricochet off of his arms and helmet, but kept his focus enough to secure the catch and get both feet down in bounds for the touchdown.