Shortly after the Browns announced their plan to release Josh Gordon yesterday evening, we heard that rival clubs were already calling Cleveland to inquire about trading for the troubled wideout before he hits the open market. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk lends further credence to those reports, writing that a few teams have indeed discussed a trade with the Browns.
It is not surprising that teams would be interested in the tremendously-talented Gordon from a pure football perspective, but it would be surprising if a club surrendered draft capital to acquire him if there were truth to the speculation that Gordon had suffered a relapse in his battle with substance abuse. However, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (via Twitter) that the Browns’ decision to part ways with Gordon is not drug-related, though he did injure his hamstring during a team photo shoot. Given Gordon’s history, of course, it is fair to be skeptical of the circumstances surrounding his impending departure, and one league executive said, “if [the Browns] are letting him go, something is up” (Twitter link via ESPN’s Josina Anderson).
But assuming that Gordon has not run afoul of the league’s substance abuse policy, we could see the Browns strike a deal to send him elsewhere, though there are no concrete reports as to which teams have expressed interest. Florio speculates that the 49ers, Patriots, Seahawks, and Cowboys could be in the running, but Calvin Watkins of The Athletic tweets that he does not expect Dallas to make a play for Gordon.
Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, citing the 49ers’ previous interest in Gordon, says he would not be surprised if San Francisco were one of the clubs willing to trade for him, though he suggests that any trade would include only conditional compensation (Twitter link). Any team that does trade for him would take on the balance of Gordon’s $790K contract this year — a bargain if he can stay on the field — and would have the right to keep him under club control with a a restricted free agency tender in 2019.
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