Given his circumstances, one would think that Josh Gordon would just be happy to find a home for the foreseeable future, an immediate roster with which he can land to hopefully start playing professional football again. It turns out the opposite is true. According to ESPN reporter Adam Schefter, Gordon is thinking with a long-term view in mind, which is why he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Last week, the National Football League decided to reinstate Gordon after he’d served more than a year suspension—yet another red flag on his professional resume made up of multiple suspensions based on breaking team rules and violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
According to Schefter, once Gordon was once again available as a free agent on the open market, “multiple teams” were involved in the bidding, but the Chiefs won by offering up themselves as a place Gordon could really situate himself for long-term success. Check out the report from Schefter below:
"Gordon, 30, had multiple teams contact him and express interest in signing him. But one of the attractions of playing in Kansas City was making it a long-term stop and spending multiple seasons there, according to his agents, Eric Dounn and Matt Leist from LAA Sports."
Somehow in the buzz of Gordon signing with K.C., this feels like a very overlooked point. Brett Veach, the Chiefs general manager, wasn’t looking for a short-term fix, some “we’re making moves!” addition because the team had lost consecutive games. The vision here for Gordon is about a long-term vision for a complete offense.
Remember this: Veach paid through the nose for Sammy Watkins over the course of three years. Watkins was, on multiple years, the wide receiver with the single highest cap hit in the NFL. The Chiefs knew his injury history but decided to sign him up anyway and did so handsomely. They did this because of Watkins’ potential but also because he completed the Chiefs offense. When he was on the field (and that’s a separate story), the Chiefs offense was unstoppable.
Even when the Chiefs decided to let Watkins walk in free agency, Veach had a very public courtship of JuJu Smith-Schuster to take his place, and even offered up more money than the Steelers did to retain him. It was a sign that it wasn’t about Watkins but the position. The Chiefs knew what they already had with Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle and they still went shopping—and let everyone know it.
Beyond that, the Chiefs were reportedly in on the likes of Josh Reynolds and T.Y. Hilton, per Nate Taylor of the Athletic, which only further serves to emphasize the fact that the Chiefs were looking for someone talented to fill that role and it wasn’t about fixation on a single player’s talents.
When the Chiefs went silent in the free agent market or their public pursuits of other options, including letting an entire draft class loaded at wideout slip through the cracks (yeah, we’re not counting Cornell Powell as a big addition here), many fans thought they might have been content with what they had. They even entered the regular season with hopes that someone would step up. Then came Gordon.
With Watkins, it was never about the level of production at WR2. It was about what having a true X receiver in the line-up does for the entire offense. With Watkins even around as little as he was, Tyreek Hill made the leap from deep threat to elite receiver with a well-rounded game. Travis Kelce’s numbers soared from Pro Bowl caliber to Hall of Fame candidate. When defenses wanted to key in on one of those pillars, there was another proven option there who could consistently with the one-on-one matchups offered up by the defense.
Here’s what we’ve learned: the Chiefs were never content at the position. Veach was always actively shopping, a man pacing in the same aisle with an empty cart waiting for something new on the store shelves. It wasn’t until the league decided to place Josh Gordon among the available items that Veach finally found the prize he’d wanted for a solid six months.
You can let the jokes fly about whether or not Gordon will be able to last even a few games, let alone a few seasons, without being suspended again. That’s fine and there’s merit to that. Gordon’s history means that the proof is in the pudding, which means he can only turn around his reputation being on the field and productive one game after another (after another).
But for Brett Veach, this is not a joke at all. He’s been searching for someone to complete this offense on the other side of the Watkins Years and he finally found it. It turns out Gordon is thinking the same thing, and it could be a marriage that lasts longer than anyone initially anticipated.