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Gordon Breaks the Final Straw

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon catches a touchdown pass defended by Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton in the second half, September 9, 2018, at FirstEnergy Stadium. John Kuntz, cleveland.com (John Kuntz, cleveland.com)

On Saturday night the Cleveland Browns announced that they intend to part ways with wide receiver Josh Gordon. The news came following an announcement earlier in the day stating that Gordon would be missing the team’s game against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday due to a hamstring injury. Gordon joined tight end Seth DeValve and linebacker Christian Kirksey on the list of players ruled out for Sunday’s game.

So did the Browns really decide to release Gordon because of a hamstring injury?

Based on the track history of general manager John Dorsey, it’s not like him to just cut a player without a plan or getting something in return. Look at this year’s free agency period before the draft for example. On the first day of free agency, Dorsey traded defensive lineman Danny Shelton to the New England Patriots in exchange for draft picks, traded quarterback DeShone Kizer and draft picks to the Green Bay Packers in exchange for defensive back Damrious Randall and draft picks, traded a draft pick to the Buffalo Bills for quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and also struck a deal with the Miami Dolphins by trading draft picks in exchange for receiver Jarvis Landry. The Browns general manager certainly was busy from day one. The trades and roster transformation continued as Dorsey signed a veteran running back in Carlos Hyde and receiver Jeff Janis while trading quarterback Cody Kessler to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a draft pick and quarterback Kevin Hogan and a draft pick to the Washington Redskins in for a draft pick. These all took place prior to the 2018 NFL Draft.

So if all of these transactions happened months and months ago, why didn’t the Browns release Gordon during the offseason?

Josh Gordon’s history in the NFL speaks for itself. While no one questions the 27-year old’s playmaking ability, the concern involves his off the field actions. Gordon has served numerous suspensions from the league due to his violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policies. Gordon missed the first two games of his second season in the NFL in 2013 due to breaking the policy. After sitting those games out, Gordon had the best year of his career and was voted to the Pro Bowl after leading all receivers in the league in receiving yards with 1646. Prior to the 2014 season, Gordon was arrested in North Carolina for driving while impaired. Initially, the NFL suspended Gordon for a full season but later reduced the suspension to 10 games. He was officially reinstated on November 17 of that year to be available to play for the Browns in their final six games of the season. However, the Browns suspended Gordon prior to the final game of the season for violating team’s rules, resulting in the receiver only playing in five games in the 2014 season. Gordon did not play in the 2015 or 2016 seasons following multiple failed drug tests and a self-initiated check-in to a rehab facility.

Josh Gordon did not play in another game for the Cleveland Browns until December of 2017 when he was able to return for the team’s final five games of the season. By that time, it was too late to save the team’s 2017 campaign and the Browns still finished the season 0-16. The hype surrounding Gordon has been extremely high throughout the offseason for the Browns as they were looking forward to an entire season of a healthy Josh Gordon.

The Cleveland Browns organization stood behind Gordon throughout all of the suspensions and league issues. Finally, things came to a head and Browns have decided to move on from Josh Gordon and everything that involves him, much like they did with Johnny Manziel a couple of seasons ago.

But what changed this time that made this the final straw for Cleveland?

As reports surfaced surrounding the story, it was mentioned that Gordon arrived at Cleveland’s facilities and did not appear himself. While the Browns have not released any details into the situation as of this time, a number of reports have surfaced about the matter. Reports say that the Browns are suspecting substance abuse, Gordon’s hamstring injury is not football related, and that Gordon refused to travel with the team to New Orleans for Sunday’s game.

Immediately the reports came out saying that the Browns are intending to release the former Pro Bowl receiver. After the initial news broke about the intentions of the Cleveland Browns to part ways with Gordon, the team stated that they will attempt to trade Gordon before releasing him on Monday. Looking at Dorsey’s antics as a general manager, this situation makes sense. For six years the Browns have been supportive of Gordon in every aspect they can be, leading other teams in the NFL to believe that Gordon was not available for them to obtain. By announcing the team’s intentions more than a day prior to the release, Dorsey could potentially be creating a sweepstake for Gordon. With all of the other trades Dorsey has made with the Browns it appeared that only one or two teams were involved in getting the most out of the trade for Cleveland. Is Dorsey giving all of the 31 other teams an opportunity to make the necessary moves or have the necessary discussions about obtaining Gordon from the Browns? The next 24 hours will tell the tale on this story.

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