The Browns Brought Their Wideout Woes on Themselves

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In the span of two days, the wideout depth chart for the Cleveland Browns went from “questionable” to “holy crap we’re in trouble now.” Even worse, this downgrade was caused by the team itself.

First, the team traded much-maligned receiver Corey Coleman for the equivalent of some gum and half a Kit-Kat. Today, we found out troubled rookie wideout Antonio Callaway was cited for possession of marijuana. Both events occurred during Josh Gordon‘s self-imposed hiatus, which still has no end in sight.

Right now, the key receivers for Cleveland are Jarvis Landry, maybe Rashard Higgins and…well, that appears to be it.

So, yes, the Browns’ offense is now in trouble. It’s all thanks to a situation they brought on themselves.

No, they can’t technically be blamed when it comes to Gordon. Despite his appearing to be back on the straight and narrow, the team had no choice but to let him step away if there was any concern about his mental health.

At the same time, Cleveland can be faulted for the moves made since he departed, or lack thereof.

The Browns were once again given enough reason to assume they can’t depend on Gordon, and have responded by acquiring zero extra help. No, there aren’t a ton of Pro Bowl wideouts there for the taking right now. Still, losing Gordon for an undetermined amount of time is a big blow to the offense, and the team should’ve left no stone unturned in trying to find some help.

Instead, it decided trading Coleman was a better idea.

Obviously the 2016 first-rounder was nobody’s idea of a star wideout. Coleman left a ton to be desired, with more broken hands than 100-yard games during his two years in Cleveland. Toss in a couple off-field incidents, and you can see why the front office may have been tempted to move him.

That said, you’d like to think the team would’ve shown pause when considering it had no idea when Gordon was coming back. Or considering there weren’t any proven wideouts on the roster besides Landry. Or when considering Callaway’s lengthy rap sheet makes his recent incident anything but a surprise.

The rookie was pulled over at 3AM (always a great time to be out) on Sunday morning. Outside of having marijuana in his car, he was also driving on a suspended license.

Again, though, the Browns can’t be stunned by this considering the red flags Callaway was draped in when they drafted him in the fourth round this April.

He missed the entire 2017 season at Florida after getting involved in a credit card scandal, and was accused of sexual assault the year before. A diluted sample at the NFL Combine drug screenings dropped him further in the draft, to the point where many weren’t expecting him to be taken at all.

However, the Browns grabbed him, hoping he had put his issues in the past. Today’s news proves this may not be the case.

Just about two months after Gordon claimed the Browns had the best wideout corps in the NFL, Landry is the only marquee member still standing.

Naturally, this is a frustrating blow considering how Cleveland had gone to great lengths resurrecting the concept of optimism within its downtrodden fan-base. However, knowing the team could’ve avoided all of this? That just makes it worse.

I’ll admit I can understand why the team may have hesitated to initially tweak a depth chart featuring Gordon, Landry, Coleman and Callaway. However, the second Gordon stepped away, GM John Dorsey should’ve focused on bringing in another receiver.

He didn’t. He still hasn’t. In fact, he decided to boot one of the aforementioned wideouts.

He did so despite getting more proof relying on Gordon can be a fool’s errand. Despite voluntarily drafting Callaway even though he came with enough baggage to scare off the rest of the league.

Have I effectively explained how avoidable this whole situation was? How Cleveland’s wideout depth didn’t have to be in tatters? How maybe, just maybe, the Browns should’ve held off on trading Coleman for now?

Dorsey has received nothing but praise from fans since his arrival in Cleveland. While the events of the past two days haven’t destroyed his standing, they sure make you question his plan for addressing new holes on the offense.

Realizing how avoidable these holes were to begin with just adds salt to the wound.

Casey Drottar is an independent sports writer. Subscribe to his podcast, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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