Are we finally seeing some good news out of Berea? According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has officially been reinstated into the NFL. According to Rapoport, Gordon will be suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season, but is expected to join the Browns thereafter.
Gordon, who has been suspended for 27 of his last 35 possible games for multiple violations of the league's substance abuse policy, met with Roger Goodell earlier this month. The receiver was slated to apply for reinstatement on August 1, but it would appear that his meeting with the commissioner was in fact a tailwind for his return.
In 2013, Gordon hauled in 87 receptions for a league-high 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns despite missing the team’s first two games, ultimately represented the Browns in the Pro Bowl. In 2014, when he had a chance to build off of his strong finish, Gordon reportedly showed disinterest and apathy, and was ultimately suspended for the final game of the season due to what was reportedly a missed meeting. Being found to have been consuming alcohol on a private jet following the 2014 season, Gordon was suspended indefinitely with the chance to apply for reinstatement before the star of the official 2016 season—a request which was denied due to an alleged failed test, resetting the reapplication clock at 60 days.
According to Rapoport, Gordon will be eligible to play in preseason games while still undergoing treatment. A key difference in this suspension versus the one that has kept him out of football for the last year is that Gordon will be allowed to participate in team meetings while he is suspended. As recent as March it was expected that Gordon would resume his grievance against the Browns for suspending him for the final game of 2014, a move which ultimately cost him an accrued season and postponed his unrestricted free agency by a year. Assuming his reinstatement goes as planned, Gordon would be allowed to return to the playing field on October 9 against the New England Patriots in a game that just so happens to also feature the return of Tom Brady who is serving a four-game suspension for his role in the long-running "Deflategate" scandal.