Considering what the Cleveland Browns have been through with Josh Gordon, they should be the ones to reap any future rewards when it comes to the ultra-talented but troubled wideout.
Yeah, it’s a calculated risk dropping a guy who has had so many issues with the substance-abuse policy back in your locker room and his affinity for hanging with Johnny Manziel before being conditionally reinstated by the NFL is the very definition of a red flag.
But, unlike Manziel, Gordon has already proven himself as a player at the highest level and if the league says he should be back after the first four games this season, well the Browns should be the ones gaining from that.
Things are finally different in Cleveland now, and Hue Jackson is a strong enough presence to steer his locker room in the right direction if the coach sees something going awry. It’s not going to be like it was in Berea when Manziel was showing up under some kind of intoxicant.
Despite Gordon’s resume and the fact he’s only one misstep away from another major suspension, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Browns have gotten multiple calls from other organizations attempting to buy low on the former All-Pro.
The Browns shouldn’t be listening and, at least to this point, all indications are they are not.
Meanwhile, Gordon himself told reporters he wants to make things right in Cleveland for an organization that never jettisoned him despite the fact that would have been the more expedient and public-relations savvy thing to do.
“I really can’t comment on (the trade rumors),” Gordon told reporters after a dual-practice session with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Central Florida on Tuesday. “I’m not really sure. I haven’t heard too much about it. Cleveland is my team. That is where I want to be.”
Gordon’s work against the Bucs was his first time in a competitive NFL-sanctioned environment since December of 2014 when he was reinstated by the league the last time.
The argument for moving him is a strong one in that he’s never stayed on the straight-and-narrow before, and 25-year-old leopards probably aren’t changing their spots, so why not get something for Gordon while you can?
The counter to that is you’re never getting equal value for the 6-foot-2, 225-pound wideout. Rolling the dice and getting another All-Pro stretch or two out of him before the next derailment is more valuable than a conditional third-round pick or something of that nature.
This is hardly an altruistic endeavor by the Browns, and if Gordon weren’t as gifted as he is, Cleveland would have pulled the plug on him a half-dozen times by now.
This is a league built on the backs of talent, however, and Gordon only has a handful of peers on this planet when it comes to playing wide receiver.
The Browns have come this far so they might as well see this to the end.
When Gordon does get back, he is projected to be catching passes from ex-Baylor teammate Robert Griffin III and headlining a receiving group that will feature former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and yet another potential star from Waco in rookie first-round pick Corey Coleman.
The only question remaining is will the Josh Gordon “30 for 30” be billed as a tragedy or a redemption story.
“(Browns Owner) Mr. (Jimmy) Haslam, the organization and (coach) Jackson, I think the world of those guys and their decisions and this organization,” Gordon said. “They’re family. They’re showing me love and respect back to me by allowing me to stay here up to this point, and I expect to move forward with that. I’m excited about it. It’s where I want to be, and I’m happy to be in Cleveland.”
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @JFMcMullen — Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SBNation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.