Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is scheduled to be released from rehab next week and hopes to be reinstated to the NFL following a year-long suspension that caused him to miss the 2015 season for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He was set reinstated in 2016 as long as he served a four-game suspension, but Gordon opted to enter a rehab facility instead. His petition for reinstatement was denied in May, but it is expected to be approved this fall.
Though he's extremely talented, Gordon has dealt with plenty of off-field troubles that have kept him off the field each of the last two seasons. The Browns left open the door for a Gordon return back in March, but like who they have on their roster at wide receiver and don't expect him back. Cleveland would have to cut him in order to officially part ways, which they plan to do.
Which teams could take a gamble on Gordon once he hits the open market? Here are the six teams most likely to sign or trade for him:
6) Carolina Panthers
The Panthers upgraded their receiving core by drafting Curtis Samuel in the second round and signing Russell Shepard, but aren't sold on Devin Funchess serving as a starter long-term. Carolina's lack of weapons was very obvious last season and Gordon would provide a formidable duo with Kelvin Benjamin. However, they may want to stay away from Gordon and his off-field issues given what they went through with Greg Hardy - but he would be an upgrade.
5) Buffalo Bills
After trading Sammy Watkins to the Rams, Buffalo lacks a true No. 1 receiver. Enter Gordon, who would provide that for a team that is hoping to compete for a wild card spot. Tyrod Taylor, LeSean McCoy and Gordon would certainly form a very interesting trio.
4) New York Jets
Speaking of teams with no weapons, we have the Jets. Jermaine Kearse showed up in New York just over a week ago after being traded from the Seahawks and is already the team's No. 1 receiver - and it's not even close. The Jets need talent and depth at wideout, making them the team that could gamble on a game-breaker like Gordon.
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3) San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco has virtually no weapons in the passing game. They're expected to be one of the worst teams in the league and draft one of the top quarterbacks in the 2018 class, and they'll need to surround him with quality receivers. Gordon could be someone they could get for cheap.
2) Chicago Bears
The Bears already have their quarterback of the future in Mitchell Trubisky, but have a lackluster receiving core that only got worse when Kevin White suffered a serious injury for the third consecutive season. Chicago drafted him to be a No. 1 receiver, yet since he can't stay healthy, the Bears need to look elsewhere for that guy. Trubisky won't reach his full potential without a go-to receiver and that knowledge could cause Chicago to take a risk with Gordon.
1) New England Patriots
This would be the slam dunk of slam dunks for the Patriots. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are great, but both are better suited as slot receivers - and both are hurt. Brandin Cooks was also a major signing this offseason, but he's under six feet tall. Tom Brady hasn't had a legitimate outside weapon since Randy Moss, when he had the best seasons of his career. Unquestionably the strongest locker room in the league, this is Gordon's best chance for success.