Patriots receiver Josh Gordon said Thursday he was taking a break from football.
“I take my mental health very seriously,” he said in a statement. “At this point, to ensure I remain able to perform at the highest level. I have recently felt like I could have a better grasp on things mentally. With that said, I will be stepping away from the football field for a bit to focus on my mental health.”
“We support Josh Gordon in his continued efforts to focus on his health,” the Patriots said in a brief statement. “His attempt to do so is a private and personal matter, which we intend to respect.”
The Patriots acquired Gordon in September from the Cleveland Browns for a fifth-round draft pick. The deal was a surprise to some because of Gordon’s checkered history.
Gordon was suspended the first two games of 2013 for substance abuse, then had a sensational season, leading the league in receiving despite missing the games. But he missed 10 games of the next season because of substance abuse, then
all of 2015 and 2016 and most of 2017. He missed some of the Browns’ training camp this season for mental health treatment.
It followed a pattern for the Patriots, who have signed several other discarded receivers over the years for next to nothing. Randy Moss in 2007 worked out; Chad Johnson in 2011 did not.
As for Gordon, 27, he played in 11 games this season for the Patriots, picking up 40 catches for 720 yards and three touchdowns. That made him the team’s leading receiver, in terms of yardage and yards per catch, an impressive 18.0. He was part of a deep receiving corps that included Julian Edelman, backup James White and tight end Rob Gronkowski.
But last Sunday, in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, he was targeted just twice and had one catch for 19 yards. He declined to talk to reporters after the game. The Patriots are 9-5 and almost certainly headed for the playoffs, but the season has been a disappointing one by their high standards.
In the absence of Gordon, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson would figure to move up the depth chart.