Barring any setbacks or lineup changes, Josh Gordon will be making his preseason debut for the Cleveland Browns this Friday as the team visits the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’ll be the first time we’ve seen the troubled wideout in a Browns uniform since December of 2014 thanks to his multiple run-ins with league discipline resulting in a year-long ban.
However, if we’re to believe reports surfacing earlier today, numerous teams around the NFL are interested to see if they can get Gordon in their respective uniforms instead.
Per Adam Schefter, a handful of teams have reached out to Cleveland to see what it would take to acquire the Pro Bowl receiver. While these seem to be general inquiries at the most, it still puts the Browns in an interesting spot.
Since Hue Jackson and the rest of the new regime arrived this past winter, there have been no subtleties about the fact the team is focusing solely on acquiring as many assets as possible to help in what’s sure to be a lengthy rebuilding process. On the surface, you would assume Cleveland would be more than interested to see what Gordon could net on the trade market. Why wouldn’t a team trying to collect as many draft picks as possible not want to grab a couple more in exchange for a player who’s deep into the league’s substance abuse program?
If Schefter’s report is true, though, the Browns aren’t interested in trading Gordon. Personally, I think this is definitely the smart route to take.
Sure, it doesn’t take much to convince anyone why moving Gordon wouldn’t be a bad idea. He hasn’t played a down of football in almost two years, and hasn’t participated in a full season since 2012. Another failed drug test and he’ll be banished yet again. The new front office has removed more than a few players who have caused some headaches in the past, and Gordon would definitely fit that description.
Despite this, I still hope the rumors are true and Cleveland has no interest in parting ways with the wideout.
Consider first the fact the Browns didn’t head into the offseason planning around the idea of Gordon being on the roster. They selected four wideouts in the draft, and are also loving the returns they’re seeing from QB-turned-receiver Terrelle Pryor. So, adding Gordon to the fold greatly improves their receiving corps, giving defenses some tough decisions when it comes to who needs to be covered.
Additionally, let’s not make it out to seem like Gordon has a huge cap hit. He has a 2016 base salary of just a shade over $1 million, and is only counting for $817K against the team’s salary cap.
As you can see, he isn’t someone who can even remotely be considered an expensive risk. Should he stay on the straight and narrow and return to his Pro Bowl form, the Browns win big. If he can’t stay clean, Cleveland moves on without the concern of losing significant money.
Of course, this logic could also endorse the idea of trading Gordon. Teams are supposedly offering the Browns assets, which is a much better return than losing him for nothing. At the same time, just what is being offered is still unconfirmed.
Let’s be honest, nobody is giving up a first-, or even a second-round pick for Gordon. Sure, the talent is there for everyone to see. However, no team is going to pay that kind of price for a player who could be suspended for another year if he’s even a pinch over the limit on his next drug screening.
Considering that, is parting with Gordon in exchange for a fourth-round pick at best really worth it? If he were to join a new team and thrive once again, would the Browns still consider themselves winners with a third-day draft selection as their lone return?
When you break it all down, it just doesn’t make sense for Cleveland to part with Gordon, especially if the team isn’t getting anything significant back. Jackson and crew seem like the perfect new mentors for him, and certainly seem like they could get through to him and get the most out of him.
Cleveland has set itself up to be in a decent place should Gordon get suspended again. No, this wouldn’t ease the blow if it happened, but it still gives the Browns the leeway needed to risk giving him a chance this year. As a result, they should continue balking at all offers received unless a team is willing to overpay.