Josh Gordon hasn’t played a regular season NFL game since 2014 but the Cleveland Browns aren’t writing him off just yet. On Tuesday, the team’s executive vice president, Sashi Brown, said the franchise would welcome Gordon back if he had “settled himself.”
Gordon voluntarily entered an in-patient rehab in September of 2016, after spending training camp with the Browns. It was announced he would apply for reinstatement to the league on March 1 of this year. The league has not ruled on the case yet.
Here’s what Brown had to say about Gordon:
“Josh, assuming that he’d play at the level we started to see glimpses of last preseason and certainly when he was in the league before, would be a talent I think no team in the NFL would turn down if he got back in. Our decision with Josh is just understanding where he is in his process and being able to add him.
“But we’re not in a position at wide receiver to turn down a guy like Josh if we feel like he’s settled himself. Now, that’s a separate question, but Josh is going to have an opportunity to reapply to the NFL, and at that time, we’ll make a decision when we know what’s going on.”
Now, Brown could just be making a diplomatic statement or potentially trying to ramp up Gordon’s trade value. But he’s correct that the Browns don’t have enough talent at wide receiver to be particularly selective at the position.
Cleveland let No. 1 wideout Terrelle Pryor leave for Washington this offseason, and the squad’s current combination of Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman isn’t going to strike fear into the hearts of opposing defenses.
If Gordon does get reinstated and plays in 2017, he would be a restricted free agent after the season and an unrestricted free agent after 2018. He’s still just 25 years old, but has missed 43 of a potential 48 games over the last four seasons thanks to repeated violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy.
That said, when on the field, Gordon has shown rare ability. He led the NFL in receiving yards during the 2013 season, while being named First-team All-Pro. He’s big, strong, fast and has incredible hands. That’s not the kind of guy the talent-strapped Browns could turn down.
It makes sense Brown would considering bringing Gordon back. I’m just skeptical that it would ever happen.