'Desperate' Patriots deal for Josh Gordon

The New England Patriots are desperate to fix the offense. And that’s how the marriage to Josh Gordon has come to be.

A league source confirmed a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter that New England agreed to acquire Gordon from the Cleveland Browns for a conditional fifth-round pick. The move happened two days after the Browns announced they were parting ways with Gordon.

Why would the Patriots make this move?

Head coach Bill Belichick has long put availability high on his list – if not first on his list – when evaluating veteran acquisitions. If Belichick believes a player won’t stay on the field, he’s very unlikely to sign him.

For example, a league source said that’s what ultimately scuttled a bargain-basement signing of Adrian Peterson in the 2017 offseason. Belichick brought Peterson in for a workout as a favor to then-Peterson agent Ben Dogra as he believed the running back still had tread on his tires after seeing him in person. According to the source, a Peterson signing never materialized because Belichick ultimately didn’t think he could stay healthy as a heavy-use player.

All of which makes a Gordon acquisition more mysterious. No star player has had more availability problems over the past four seasons in the NFL, playing only 10 of a possible 64 games in that span. But according to a source who spoke to Yahoo Sports on Monday afternoon, New England has been “desperate” to add speed and playmaking to the offense. The loss of running back Dion Lewis has turned out to be significant, while the Patriots have been in a constant churn at the wide receiver position trying to find an impact player beyond Julian Edelman.

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Josh Gordon throughout his NFL career
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Josh Gordon throughout his NFL career
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 23: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns looks on during an NFL preseason game against the St. Louis Rams at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 23, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 9, 2014: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 (L) and wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 (R) of the Cleveland Browns stand for the national anthem prior to a preseason game against the Detroit Lions on August 9, 2014 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won 13-12. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 09: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to the start of the preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on August 9, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Browns 13-12 in a preseason game. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 09: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to the start of the preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on August 9, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Browns 13-12 in a preseason game. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
JULY 29, 2014 - BEREA, OH: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns catches a pass prior to a training camp practice at the Cleveland Browns training facility in Berea, Ohio on July 29, 2014. (Photo by: Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 01: Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon attends the 3rd Annual NFL Honors at Radio City Music Hall on February 1, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 12: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns participates in warm ups before the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on August 12, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 18, 2016: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns walks onto the field prior to a preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons on August 18, 2016 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Atlanta won 24-13. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 19, 2017: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns walks onto the field prior to a game on November 19, 2017 against the Jacksonville Jaguars at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Jacksonville won 19-7. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 26, 2017: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns walks onto the field prior to a game on November 26, 2017 against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati won 30-16. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CARSON, CA - DECEMBER 03: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center on December 3, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 10: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates a touchdown in the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 10, 2017: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns carries the ball prior to a game on December 10, 2017 against the Green Bay Packers at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Green Bay won 27-21 in overtime. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 10, 2017: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns gestures toward the crowd after catching a touchdown pass in the first quarter of a game on December 10, 2017 against the Green Bay Packers at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. The touchdown was Gordon's first since returning from suspension. Green Bay won 27-21 in overtime. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 17: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns warms up before the game against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 17, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 31: Cleveland Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson shakes hands with Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Josh Gordon (12) during the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 31, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 31, 2017: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns runs a route prior to a game on December 31, 2017 against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh won 28-24. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
BEREA, OH - JUNE 12, 2018: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns catches a pass during a mandatory mini camp on June 12, 2018 at the Cleveland Browns training facility in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by: 2018 Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 09: Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden (23) breaks up a pass intended for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) during the third quarter of the National Football League game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns on September 9, 2018, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH. Pittsburgh and Cleveland tied 21-21. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Sep 9, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) catches a touchdown as Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton (20) defends during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 2: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (left) congratulates Josh Gordon after his touchdown in the third quarter. The New England Patriots play against the Minnesota Vikings at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough on Dec. 02, 2018. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 02: Josh Gordon #10 of the New England Patriots reacts after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Gillette Stadium on December 2, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 09: Josh Gordon #10 of the New England Patriots looks on prior to the game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on December 9, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Impact on Tom Brady, Josh McDaniels

While Gordon would be considered a game-to-game rental, the source said it’s a signing that would be important for quarterback Tom Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Both McDaniels and Brady are acutely aware that the offense is lacking an option to take the top off a secondary in passing routes. It’s something the team lost when it dealt wideout Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams. Since that move, New England has been rotating through options to resolve the problem in any way possible, including looks at Jordan Matthews, Kenny Britt and a last push with Malcolm Mitchell.

Now Gordon will be a guy who is expected to resolve all of that.

The Browns on Saturday announced that they were parting ways with Gordon, hours after the team said that the wideout wouldn’t be available to play Sunday against the New Orleans Saints due to a hamstring injury. The Browns eventually lost that game, starting the season 0-1-1 and extending a winless streak that dates back to 2016.

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