With Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce being the only dependable receiving threats for Patrick Mahomes, K.C. Chiefs fans have been begging for a third weapon to help lift up the team as the season has gotten off to a rough start. Now, signing recently reinstated Josh Gordon to the team, the Chiefs have added a potential weapon to further expand the offense.
The 30-year-old Gordon, once an All-Pro wide receiver, now finds himself on his fourth team in his unique NFL career. Having not played since the 2019 season, due to his off-the-field struggles, Gordon couldn’t have found a better spot than with the Chiefs. While Gordon presents many unknowns, his potential to help Andy Reid create a more dynamic and consistent offense could bring a new light to the already potent offense.
Gordon’s path to contributing to the Chiefs may not come right away. Gordon, like many other mid-year signings around the league, will begin his time in K.C. on the practice squad until he’s up to speed. Once he does join the active roster, the receiving production between the non-stars may begin to see a change.
Josh Gordon’s arrival to Chiefs should come with modest expectations.
The two stars of Hill and Kelce will be mostly unaffected by Gordon’s presence. Their production will stay at the top of the NFL as two of the most successful weapons in the entire league. The questions lie with everyone behind them. Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, and Byron Pringle all look to have their workloads lessened with Gordon’s company.
Through three games, Hardman and Robinson have seen their snap counts above 50% in each game, while Pringle has risen from logged 17%, 22% and 38% of snaps in that order. The three have a combined 260 yards on the season so far, 7 less yards than Hill has by himself and 29 less than Kelce. Neither of the three have made a large impact so far this season and likely will not see the opportunity to solidify themselves as the third option with Gordon’s signing.
What the Chiefs can hope to see out of Gordon in becoming the third receiving weapon is something Hardman has been expected to do but has come short of. Gordon’s deep play ability has been his strong point throughout his career but may not be exactly what the Chiefs need. Standing at 6-3 225 pounds, Gordon could strive as more of a possession receiver for Mahomes.
Targeting Kelce and Hill often, the Chiefs have seen the Ravens and Chargers look to take away the bombs from Hill. After taking in a huge 11 catches for 197 yards against the Browns, in the past two games Hill has managed only 8 catches for 70 yards. This leaves space for someone besides Kelce to take advantage of the middle of the field while Hill is receiving safety help. Gordon’s large frame and athletic ability give him the opportunity to become a safety net type of player for Mahomes, while still being able to possess deep-threat ability he displayed for his entire career.
Another way Gordon can have a huge presence for the offense could come in the red zone. While he hasn’t put up many touchdowns in his previous spots over his last few seasons, his size keeps him as a threat in a possession or jump ball situation. The Chiefs red zone efficiency has been one of the few issues in the last few years, but so far this season the offense has found greater success reaching the end zone, ranking 12th in the NFL in red zone touchdown percentage, which Gordon can only help improve more.
Gordon’s likely production will not be anything near his past. While he may still have some of his All-Pro level talent left in him, most of it is not there, and many receivers don’t produce much behind the best wide receiver-tight end duo in the league. As the other receivers have seen, Mahomes will look to Kelce and Hill the majority of the time to keep the chains moving.
Former Chiefs receiver Sammy Watkins never took off in K.C. as many expected, but has found more statistical success in Baltimore with a greater opportunity. Watkins averaged between 42.1-51.9 yards per game in his time with the Chiefs, which would be around 700-800 yards per season on a 16 game basis, if he didn’t miss time due to injuries. A season around the likes of Watkins, with a more consistent feel would be very successful for Gordon and the Chiefs. Gordon will find himself much closer to the production and usage of Hardman, Robinson, or Pringle than anywhere near Kelce or Hill.
Gordon’s goal should be to separate himself from the other three, and put himself in his own tier between them and the big two as a receiver for the offense. Gordon can provide Reid and the offense a big impact on the field, even if he’s not putting up big time stats.
Gordon is not the receiver he once was, and no one should expect him to be. His impact as a newly signed Kansas City Chief may not blow anyone away, as no one should expect him to do either. All the Chiefs can ask of Gordon is to be a weapon for Mahomes to rely on when Kelce and Hill aren’t open, something the current weapons haven’t been able to give the offense. This signing presents Gordon a chance to rejuvenate his career once again, and also help bring a spark to the 1-2 Kansas City Chiefs.