Browns Easily Retain WR Josh Gordon, Who Remains ERFA Due To Suspensions

As we contemplate the possibilities of one future Cleveland Browns wide receiver who has some connections to members of the Pittsburgh Steelers (I refer of course to Terrelle Pryor), the team off of Lake Erie is assuring that they don’t let another slip away.

Reportedly, the Browns are going to try to get Pryor back this offseason after letting him go because he turned down a four-year, $32.5 million contract that they turned around and gave to Kenny Britt. And they will be looking to pair him up with Josh Gordon, whom, as should be no surprise, they retained as an exclusive rights free agent.

It’s somewhat mindboggling to think that a second-round pick from 2012 could still be an exclusive rights free agent heading into the 2018 season, but, of course, we know how that ended up happening for Gordon, whose only two accrued seasons came in his first two years in the league before his career went off the rails.

He already served a two-game suspension to start off the 2013 season, during which he made the All-Pro list on the first team, beating out Antonio Brown. But after playing 30 games in his first two seasons, he played just five from 2014 through 2016.

He began the 2014 season serving a year-long suspension, but it was reduced to 10 games. This would have allowed him to play in the final six games and thus accrue a season toward free agent eligibility, but the Browns suspended him for the final game of the year for violating team rules. If not for that, he would be a restricted free agent right now.

As we know, Gordon was then suspended for all of the 2015 season, and was reinstated for 2016 but handed a six-game suspension, during which he checked into rehab yet again. Because he was never activated from the suspended list, he remained, and continued to serve an additional suspension for the first 11 games of last season.

Which, once again, meant that he only played in five games, and you need six to accrue a season. So in two seasons, he came a game shy of accruing a season, and thus was just two games away from being an unrestricted free agent.

Instead, the earliest that he can become an unrestricted free agent is in 2020, meaning that the Browns likely can control him for cheap the next couple of years. Theoretically, thinking ahead, they can give him an original-round tender and pay the lowest possible cost, since he was a second-round pick, while hoping that nobody tries to sign him, but even if they do, they have the cap space to match any offer imaginable.

I would like to conclude this article by deriding Mike Florio a bit, who yesterday relayed false information that claimed Gordon was scheduled to be a restricted free agent. For somebody who acts as though he knows so much, and loves to call out other people’s mistakes, his inability to fact-check this easily-factcheckable detail is worth some scorn.

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