Early Saturday, the team ruled Gordon out of Sunday’s game with a sudden hamstring injury. Then on Saturday evening it announced it will release Gordon.
Browns to release WR Josh Gordon
Statement from GM John Dorsey: pic.twitter.com/bQmWraH8Nr
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 15, 2018
Notice the Browns reminding everyone that for six years they gave Gordon chance after chance, despite numerous suspensions. The end of the line came Saturday, though the Browns did not cut him immediately. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Gordon hurt his hamstring at a promotional shoot, not in practice, which clearly upset the Browns.
Schefter reported that teams immediately started calling the Browns about a trade, and “league sources believe are far more likely to trade Josh Gordon than release him.” If he’s cut, Gordon can become a free agent immediately Schefter said. The Browns said in their statement they would release Gordon on Monday, but perhaps the trade interest will affect the timeline.
However, longtime Cleveland.com beat writer Mary Kay Cabot’s report on Saturday night was troubling, given Gordon’s history of substance abuse:
Updated: #Browns Gordon showed up late to the facility on Saturday morning and was 'not himself.' Red flag for possible substance use was the concern of some in the org, sources tell clevelanddotcom https://t.co/KMdBeX9JVO
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) September 15, 2018
Josh Gordon has been unreliable through his career
The early Saturday injury news with Gordon was surprising, yet because it was Gordon, maybe it wasn’t that surprising.
Gordon wasn’t on the injury report during the week. But on Saturday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said he came in and told trainers his hamstring wasn’t feeling right. He hurt his hamstring in August, shortly after he returned to the team following a curious hiatus from the team as training camp started.
The circumstances were highly unusual. It’s very rare a player doesn’t show up on the injury report but gets ruled out for Sunday’s game. It was all suspicious, and then came the surprising news about Gordon’s release. The report by Cabot that Gordon was “not himself” provides more context, because the Browns were patient with him through a lot of things more serious than a Saturday hamstring injury. In addition, Rapoport said Gordon showed up late on Saturday and the team couldn’t figure out how he hurt his hamstring.
Gordon has been entirely unreliable in his career, and that goes back to his college days. He has played in just 11 games since 2013 due to various transgressions. Most of them involve failed drug tests and NFL suspensions.
In 2013, Gordon led the NFL in receiving. He’s still just 27 years old. That’s why the Browns kept giving him chances. That’s why, even with Gordon’s long and checkered history, teams were immediately calling the Browns asking about a trade.
What’s next for Gordon and Browns?
While we’ll wait to peel the layers back on the entire story, it would be no surprise if Gordon is on another team very soon. A lot of teams have a receiver need — the Dallas Cowboys stand out in that group — and Gordon is enormously talented.
It’s also curious what will happen with the Browns. This might be the path for Dez Bryant to get back in the NFL. The Browns have a significant need at receiver now, and Bryant visited the Browns in August.
For Gordon, whatever team takes a shot on him will be taking the same risks the Browns did through the past few years. He can’t be trusted. But the talent is so tempting.
The Browns couldn’t be patient anymore
Gordon’s entire career with the Browns has been strange, and the past few weeks have been really odd.
Gordon’s season started with him saying he was going to be away from the team at the start of training camp for his “overall health and treatment plan.” The specifics of that were never divulged.
When Gordon returned, he hurt his hamstring. He wasn’t supposed to start in Week 1, and coach Hue Jackson was strangely upset that Gordon ended up starting in a certain personnel package that included him. Gordon still ended up playing 69 snaps and had one of the Browns’ biggest highlights in a long time, an acrobatic 17-yard touchdown pass with 1:58 left to help send a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers to overtime. It was a great play for a long-suffering team. The Browns tied that game, their first non-loss since Dec. 24, 2016.
The past few weeks summed up Gordon’s Browns career. His personal demons caused the Browns to have to be patient. When he showed up, there were still issues. But then he showed his rare playmaking ability and it seemed all would be forgiven.
This time, the Browns couldn’t keep sticking it out with Gordon.
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