With all the news surrounding Josh Gordon, it’s easy to forget the trade rumors that swirled regarding the troubled Browns receiver last season. Today, we have a little more specification on one such proposed deal courtesy of Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, who reports that the 49ers were highly interested in acquiring Gordon in the midst of last season.
Per La Canfora, San Francisco was willing to part with a second-round pick in “addition to other players” in order to add Gordon to what at the time was a struggling offense. However, Cleveland’s decision-makers were split on the idea of dealing their young star — while team president Joe Banner was “very open” to trading Gordon, head coach Rob Chudzinski, who had developed a personal relationship with the receiver, was less willing to deal him. Ultimately, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam stepped in and nixed any tentative deal, and requested any further Gordon trade discussions be tabled.
While neither Banner nor Chudzinski remains in the Cleveland organization, it’s worth wondering whether Haslam regrets his decision. Gordon’s status is still very much in the air, and while he’s certainly talented, garnering a second-round pick and transferring his risk to another team could have been viewed as a win for the Browns. The 49ers, of course, eventually reached the NFC Championship game even without Gordon — they acquired another receiver, ex-Bill Stevie Johnson, over the offseason.
La Canfora’s report could also give us some clarity as to Gordon’s current trade value. Though the Browns have denied any interest in waiving Gordon, it wouldn’t be out of the question for them to look to move him (especially if his one-year suspension is reversed, or lessened). Cleveland wouldn’t get more than the 49ers offered given Gordon’s current concerns, but a team desperate for a playmaker could propose some sort of package for the young receiver. Setting a second-rounder as the ceiling, and assuming his suspension is overturned or reduced, I could perhaps see a team sending a fourth-round pick to the Browns in order to acquire Gordon.
However, if Haslam’s view on dealing Gordon hasn’t wavered, any further trade discussions would be moot. Additionally, La Canfora writes that the Browns went to great lengths to help Gordon last season, working with the Cleveland Clinic to find sports psychologists who could assist him in his personal life. The Browns clearly have a lot invested in Gordon, and given that they’ve stuck by him through his latest episodes, I doubt they’d look to get rid of him now.