Cleveland Browns Josh Gordon Trade Rumors Show Front Office Means Business

Updated: October 8, 2013

From the moment Josh Gordon returned from his two-game suspension to begin the season, the talented wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns has been at the center of trade rumors. After dealing running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick because he wasn’t a good fit for the team’s offense, Joe Banner and Michael Lombardi made it clear they will not keep a player they do not have faith in.

Attempting to rationalize this to the Cleveland Browns fan base has been an interesting task to say the least. Following the Richardson trade, social media and news outlets across the area blew up with fans jumping off the bandwagon saying the team was tanking. However, that talk has turned pretty much to “Richardson Who” with three consecutive wins and a tie for first place in the AFC North. In fact, many who were defending him for his lack of production in Cleveland have suddenly had a change of heart after watching the same production in Indianapolis.

For now, it appears the Browns front office has won the Richardson trade. The team is winning and contending in the AFC North and they have an extra first-round pick to work with to improve even more next offseason. But Richardson in his greatest moment with the Browns has never displayed the game altering potential that Gordon has—hence the big problem among the trade rumors.

After the team rolled the dice on him with a 2013 second-round draft pick in the 2012 Supplemental Draft, nobody was really sure what to expect from Gordon. At 6’3” and 225 pounds with excellent speed, he had the measurables of a player that could dominate at the next level. However, his athleticism and measurables were never the question in college.

Gordon posted 42 receptions for 714 yards and seven touchdowns in his second season at Baylor (2010) and certainly looked like he was ready for a breakout season in 2011 with Robert Griffin III at the helm. If you think back to the things RG3 did during that 2011 campaign, one can only wonder what would have happened if Gordon did not get in trouble.

Unfortunately for Gordon, Baylor head coach Art Briles had already given him his first chance during the 2010 season. Gordon was found asleep at a local Taco Bell with another player by the police and the two had marijuana on them. Since it was his first violation, he was given a second chance by the head coach. Instead of cleaning up, in July of 2011 Gordon failed a drug test for marijuana use and was kicked off the team.

This led to Gordon transferring to Utah and being forced to sit out the 2011 season due to NCAA rules. However, Gordon would never see the field for Utah because he failed a drug test yet again—something he lied to people about—so he entered the 2012 Supplemental Draft and was selected by the Cleveland Browns and then general manager Tom Heckert.

While we all know the history, it is important to point out Gordon failed not one, but three drug tests while in college. There is certainly a “kids being kids” factor to consider, but for someone with a ton of talent and the NFL in their future you would think he would have learned the first couple of times.

Once Gordon got to Cleveland he did the right thing and admitted to failing the third test when he was at Utah. He seemed earnest when he said, “Coming out here, I have a new experience, a new foundation to get started and I don’t really plan on looking back in the past anymore. I only look toward the future. I’m definitely a changed person. The things that happened were such a long time ago and the fact that there’s this many people in such a prestigious organization like this, putting their jobs and their necks out for a guy like me, it says a lot about them and their character.”

Gordon said all of the right things and certainly backed it up on the field after getting a chance as a rookie in 2012. Despite catching just three passes in his first two games, Gordon went on to catch 50 passes for 805 yards and five touchdowns in his rookie season. He got on the same page as the offense, and looked like a future centerpiece of the offense for years to come at just 22-years old.

As we all know, Gordon’s past reared its ugly head again in the offseason as he was suspended two games for the use of codeine after testing positive at another drug test. With his collegiate history of failing drug tests and another suspension under his belt, it is believed he is one more screw up in the NFL away from a one-year suspension from the league. And this is where the trade rumors come into play.

When Banner and Lombardi were brought on board in Cleveland, their motto of sorts was to build a team with “sustained success”. They spent money to upgrade the defense, brought in a coaching staff with years of experience and have shown a no-nonsense policy of sorts with the players to this point. With Gordon in mind, their motto of sustained success is going to be tough to follow if their No. 1 receiver messes up again (has already been cited for traffic violations as well) and is gone for a full season.

In all reality, if Gordon is dealt it shouldn’t surprise anyone.

He was not taken by this front office and despite already reeling in 18 catches for 303 yards and two touchdowns, it seems he is viewed as more of a liability than a game changer. In fact, Dane Brugler of CBS Sports tweeted earlier, “It will be somewhat surprising if the #Browns land a 2nd rounder for Gordon.” What that should tell you is that even with all the talent in the world, the Browns are not the only ones who view his trouble as a major problem, the rest of the league does too. Brugler—a well-connected person in the NFL—went on to respond to another person’s tweet by saying Gordon has been on the block since this regime took over.

It seems as if Gordon’s problems may be even worse than any of us truly know, and if they are then the team is doing its due diligence by trying to see if they can get the best deal possible for the extremely talented second-year wide receiver. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Browns had been in talks with the 49ers about him, but that a deal was not likely at this time.

Let’s face the truth, unless someone throws a first-round pick or a potentially high second-round selection at the Browns, Gordon is probably not going anywhere. While he may be a liability, the team is not going to just give him away without receiving a selection they deem good enough to find his replacement with in the 2014 NFL Draft. So please do not think they are trying to make a trade because they are bored, this is something that has been calculated since the first day they took over.

Banner was the President of the Eagles when the team signed Michael Vick fresh out of jail to be their future quarterback. If anyone understands how to calculate the risk involved in keeping or letting a player with issues go it would be him, so we should probably let this situation play out before crucifying the organization at this time.

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