The Cleveland Browns announced on Saturday evening that they plan to release wide receiver Josh Gordon on Monday.
The team announced the move through a tweet along with a statement from general manager John Dorsey:
This comes hours after the team announced that Gordon was ruled out and not even traveling to Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints because of a hamstring issue. Although now as reports are trickling in, that doesn’t seem to be the entire story.
Now I don’t think the team finally decided to release him because he was late.
Cleveland.com is reporting that when Gordon arrived to the facility on Saturday, he was “not himself” and the concern was that of a potential red flag of substance use by some in the organization.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter is also reporting that Gordon injured his hamstring during a photoshoot.
We all know the story of Josh Gordon far too well. While he is one of the most talented wide receivers, he’s also been one of the most troubled athletes to play in the National Football League in recent years.
A supplemental pick in 2012 after numerous red flags at Baylor and Utah, the Browns took a chance on Gordon with a second round pick. In his first two seasons, Gordon caught 137 passes for 2,451 yards and 14 touchdowns including his 2013 season in which he lead the league with 1,646 receiving yards and was a first-team All-Pro.
Gordon was on the fast track to superstardom until his demons once again caught up with him. Numerous failed drug tests derailed his potential Hall of Fame career and kept Gordon out of football for the majority of the 2014 season, the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons and the majority of the 2017 season.
He returned late last season and things once again seemed like he was back on track after a lengthy rehabilitation stint. In five games he had 18 catches for 335 yards and a touchdown.
He went through the offseason workout programs without a hiccup but just days before training camp was set to begin, Gordon stepped away to “focus on his physical and mental health” and was away from the team for a month. He returned in mid-August and the team eased him back into things with the help of the NFL.
Last week in the season opener, Gordon was only to play around 20 snaps but the team ended up playing him 69 snaps (78% of the offensive snaps) and he was only targeted three times. His one catch was a 17-yard catch in the corner of the end zone to tie the game late in the fourth quarter against the Steelers which ended up resulting in a 21-21 tie in overtime.
As for the Browns, the wide receiver room needs help with the release of Gordon. The only proven commodity at this point is Jarvis Landry. Antonio Callaway, Rashard Higgins, Derrick Willies and Damion Ratley all may have had some flashes during training camp or preseason but they’re unproven at the NFL level until proven otherwise.
You have to wonder if the Browns make another call to Dez Bryant to see if he’s truly interested in joining the team. Brandon LaFell who was formerly with the Cincinnati Bengals was also linked to the team during training camp. It’s apparent at this point that the team needs to bring in another wide receiver as soon as possible.
As for Josh Gordon, while he is talented and while he can help an NFL offense, at some point you had to say enough is enough. The issues off the field, not just the substance issues but the signs of immaturity were there too. The 2014 season was apparent when he returned and was running the wrong routes and setting up Brian Hoyer for failure so Johnny Manziel could be the quarterback.
John Dorsey and the front office is trying to change the culture in Cleveland and if they let Gordon slide again, then they would’ve been making the same mistake that other regimes did over the last few years. They had to make a stance and it’ll be interesting to see what comes of it in the immediate and long-term future.
According to reports, Gordon won’t be subject to waivers and would immediately become a free agent at 4 pm on Monday. ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that the team is getting calls about potentially trading Gordon. So this story isn’t over just yet.