NFL - Browns Still Believe in Josh Gordon
by DS WilliamsonThis past Thursday, former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant visited the Cleveland Browns. Bryant appeared ready to sign a deal with Cleveland but, per the Sporting News, he left Cleveland with no deal in place. That doesn’t mean Bryant and Cleveland won’t reach an agreement eventually but the lack of an offer does give a clue about how the Browns feel about Josh Gordon. Not signing Bryant isn’t the only clue. Cleveland’s dropped a couple of other hints early this off-season.
Trading Corey Coleman, a former Round 1 pick, to the Bills says something. Coleman asked coach Hue Jackson for the trade. Jackson complied. If Coleman had felt that Cleveland wasn’t all in with Gordon, why request a trade?
The Browns have also repeatedly said that Gordon can take “as much time as he wants”. Now, Dez Bryant leaves Cleveland without a deal.
If you're reading between the lines, it looks like Cleveland is maintaining their faith investment in Josh Gordon. Should they?
With the NFL Preseason heading into Week 3, the Browns have no idea when Gordon might show. Since July 23, Gordon hasn’t peeped a tweet. The Browns haven’t said much, either.
At first, it doesn’t make sense. Gordon played in only 5 games last season, and was inactive for 2015 and 2016. In Week 17, he played his best game when catching 4 passes for 115 yards. His stats were electric during his breakout campaign in 2013, but that was 5 years ago. To put it in other words, the Cleveland Browns have been waiting on Josh Gordon to get sorted for a very, very long time.
Then again, Josh Gordon might be the most talented wide receiver in the NFL. In 5 games, Gordon caught 18 passes for 335 yards. He only caught a single TD pass. Not great stats on the surface. However, a deeper dive shows why Gordon is special.
Last season, rookie DeShone Kizer was attempting to prove he was worthy of being a starting quarterback (he was not). This season, Gordon’s quarterback will be Tyrod Taylor. Taylor led the Buffalo Bills to the playoffs last season and is a veteran quarterback who will develop a rapport with Gordon right away.
In the future, Gordon will catch passes from Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. The number 1 pick in the NFL Draft was phenomenal in Cleveland’s first preseason game. Mayfield threw for 212 yards and 2 touchdowns. One of the TD passes was a beautiful 54-yard strike to Antonio Callaway.
Since the Browns feel Mayfield isn’t ready to start this season, Cleveland might not feel the need for Gordon to rush to camp. Giving Gordon time might sound counterintuitive, but it’s the better move. Once Gordon does get into camp, he’ll get on the same page with Tyrod Taylor. Then, he will work with Mayfield to get the rookie up to speed.
For a franchise that often makes stupid moves, allowing Josh Gordon to return at his own pace isn’t one of them. It’s the smart thing to do.