Browns wideout Josh Gordon pleaded guilty to a charge of DUI in Raleigh today, the Wake County Clerk of Court confirmed to Will Brinson of CBSSports.com. As a result of the guilty plea, Gordon received 12 months unsupervised probation and will have to pay a total of $390 in court costs and fines.
As for how the DUI will affect Gordon’s NFL status, that remains somewhat unclear. The league’s new drug policy states that the penalty for a first-time DUI will be a two-game suspension, but because the incident occurred and the legal process concluded while the old policy is still technically in place, Gordon won’t be subject to that automatic two-game suspension, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
Under the old drug policy, a first-time DUI offense results in no suspension and a maximum fine of $50K from the NFL. As Florio points out in a tweet, Gordon still may face a suspension under that old policy due to his history of substance-abuse issues, but it won’t be an automatic two-gamer, as it would be under the new rules.
Of course, once the new drug policy is instituted, which is expected to happen any day now, Gordon will still have to serve the rest of a 10-game ban for violations of the league’s substance abuse guidelines. But if he can avoid further punishment, it could make a big difference for his NFL future. Playing in the Browns’ final six games this season would allow Gordon to earn an accrued season, meaning he’d remain on track to be eligible for free agency after the 2015 season. If he were to be suspended for an additional two games, playing in only four this season, he wouldn’t earn that accrued season, meaning the Browns would get an extra year of team control on the young wideout.