11:05pm: It’s still up in the air if Gordon will lose his accrued season for 2014, which would push his unrestricted free agency back a year, tweets Mark Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, adding that talks are ongoing between the two sides. According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the team did suspend Gordon without pay, which would put his 2014 accrued season in jeopardy.
Still, as Florio points out, the language in the CBA doesn’t specify that time spent on a reserve/suspended list doesn’t count toward an accrued season. As such, Gordon could have two potential avenues to fight the delay of his free agency — he could appeal the suspension, and hope it’s overturned by an arbitrator. If that route is unsuccessful, there could be a legal battle over the interpretation of the CBA’s definition of an accrued season, which states that “a player shall receive one Accrued Season for each season during which he was on, or should have been on, full pay status for a total of six or more regular season games.”
Florio suggests that in Gordon’s case, the NFLPA could argue that the Browns wideout “should have been on” full pay status in Week 17, particularly since the reserve/suspended isn’t mentioned in the CBA’s list of examples for instances that don’t count toward an accrued season (which includes time spent on the commissioner’s exempt list, practice squad, or PUP list due to a non-football injury).
1:25pm: The Browns have suspended star receiver Josh Gordon for their Week 17 matchup with the Ravens, reports Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports 1 (via Twitter). Gordon was suspended for violation of team rules for reportedly missing a walkthrough practice on Friday, writes Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com (via Twitter). Grossi also writes that a late-night night club incident may have also been a contributing factor.
While Gordon has been placed on the reserved/suspended list, the team has signed receiver Phil Bates off the practice squad to fill his roster spot, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN (via Twitter).
Gordon has gained a reputation for being late for meetings, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (via Twitter). La Canfora writes that Gordon’s “maturity, decision-making, and associates remain a concern for the team.”
La Canfora also notes that the team had a trade in place to send the embattled wideout to the 49ers last offseason, but ownership refused to go through with the deal (via Twitter). He writes that the team will regret not making the trade when it was on the table. The Browns would not be able to get much for him now, but some pundits – such as such as Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (via Twitter) – would still be surprised to see Gordon return to the team in 2015.
Gordon will only have played five games in 2014 due to the suspension, after missing the first ten games due to a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). By only playing five games, Gordon will not get credit for an accrued season toward his free agency, reports Albert Breer of NFL.com (via Twitter). Gordon has played two NFL seasons, and would need four accrued seasons to become an unrestricted free agent. Missing this Sunday’s game will cost him credit for his third season, and could potentially make his 2016 free agency restricted, writes Breer (via Twitter).
The team will have to decided whether the punishment is a paid or unpaid suspension. If the suspension is paid, he will be credited for his sixth game and third season. If not, he will not accrue his third season toward free agency, reports Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (via Twitter).
There is a belief that Browns’ management was motivated to push back Gordon’s free agency by a year, and that was a reason for the suspension, according to Wilson (via Twitter). The decision to suspend him and keep him at five games is considered a prudent business decision by the organization, in an attempt to delay his unrestricted free agency (via Twitter).
Gordon is expected to fight the suspension in order to regain his accrued year toward free agency, writes Cole (via Twitter).