Patriots WR Josh Gordon has reportedly applied for reinstatement

The New England Patriots might get a big addition to their passing game, and it’s not because Rob Gronkowski is coming back.

Josh Gordon has finally taken a step towards an NFL return. The former NFL receiving champ has applied for reinstatement, according to veteran reporter Howard Balzer. ESPN confirmed the report on Wednesday. Gordon announced he was “stepping away” from the Patriots late last season, then it was reported he had violated the league’s substance-abuse policy again.

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Just because Gordon has applied for reinstatement doesn’t mean he’ll be on the field anytime soon. But his return would be a boon to the Patriots.

Josh Gordon has many suspensions in his past

Gordon’s history is well documented. He had substance-abuse issues in college and throughout his Cleveland Browns career. In 2013 he led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards, but the story of his career since then has been multiple suspensions.

The Browns finally moved on from Gordon, and the Patriots took a chance. He had 720 yards in 11 games for New England last season before more off-field problems surfaced.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will decide on Gordon’s reinstatement. Although Gordon missed the final two games of last season and all three playoff games, it’s still possible Gordon gets reinstated but is served an additional suspension. It’s hard to tell what the NFL will do in any discipline case.

But Gordon needed to apply for reinstatement before anything else happened. Now that process can start.

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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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Patriots would benefit from Gordon’s return

The Patriots need Gordon. They have slot receiver Julian Edelman, but not much on the outside. Training camp reviews of first-round pick N’Keal Harry have been mixed, which should be expected for a rookie receiver in a new offense. The Patriots’ other options on the perimeter are unproven.

There’s no timetable on his return, however. It might take Goodell a while to decide. Gordon could be suspended some more. It’s hard to plan on when Gordon will return, or whether he can remain on the field once he does return.

But the story has huge implications on the NFL season. The Patriots’ Super Bowl defense would be a lot easier with a former receiving champion back on the field.

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Frank Schwabis a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

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