Josh Gordon: positives outweigh the negatives?

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The Cleveland Browns knew they’d be facing some tough choices this season, mostly having to do with whether veteran Brian Hoyer remains their starting QB for the year or if they do indeed turn the job over to fan-favorite Johnny Manziel.

The team also knew they’d likely have to find a committee of wide receivers to fill a void left by the pending suspension of star WR Josh Gordon after a 2nd failed drug test in the offseason.

Following more trouble from Gordon, a DWI arrest on July 5th, Cleveland could be facing another item to ponder altogether – do they cut the troubled superstar and prepare for life without him for good?

TNT – Talent & Troubles

When Josh Gordon takes the football field there are few, if any, who are better. As a sophomore with Baylor in 2010 Gordon teamed up with Robert Griffin III to tally 42 catches for 714 yards and 7 TD, including a school record 94-yard TD reception against Kansas. Unfortunately, wherever there’s been success, trouble was lurking not far behind. He failed at least two drug tests at Baylor and was eventually forced to leave the team.

Even with baggage, Gordon was able to make his way into the NFL despite never playing another college snap after his exit from BU.

Cleveland took a chance on the 6’4” receiver by giving up a 2nd round pick in 2013 and selecting Gordon in the 2012 supplemental draft. Josh Gordon kept out of the police blotter and stayed in the highlights by amassing 50 catches and 5 TD in his rookie year. After the season, it turned out Gordon hadn’t kept clean as he tested positive for codeine, then requiring him to miss 2 games in the 2013 season. The suspension meant he had also tested positive once before already, unbeknownst to the media.

In 2013, Josh Gordon served his two game suspension and promptly tore up the NFL, catching 87 balls for over 1,600 yards and 9 TD while becoming the first player to put up 200+ receiving yards in back-to-back weeks. But even being named to the All-Pro team and given a big contract extension wasn’t enough for Gordon to keep his head clean as he failed a second known drug test. The WR was waiting for an appeal hearing when he then got popped again, this time for a DWI in North Carolina. As it stands a 1-year suspension is almost guaranteed with an indefinite ban from the NFL not out of the possibility.

Should the Browns Cut Ties Altogether?

Before the DWI arrest the Browns were optimistic that Gordon could possibly miss only 4 games. Even though he did fail a 2nd drug test there were rumors that it could’ve been for something as simple as missing an appointment or having too much water in his system. Gordon showed what he could do in a shortened season in 2013 and returning after 4-games would coincide nicely with either an October 12th game at home against the Steelers or more likely an October 19th matchup with Jacksonville where they could also debut Manziel if Hoyer was struggling. Now the Browns play the waiting game and some are saying that however talented Gordon may be, it’s time to be done with him and move forward. NFL vet Cris Carter and current player Tyrann Mathieu even went so far as to say Cleveland should waive Gordon to help him – as no amount of advice is going to change a person until they lose it all.

The Case To Keep Gordon

Few would argue if the Browns decided to hang on to their troubled superstar and assist him in getting the rehabilitation he so desperately needs. If Gordon is able to kick this addiction Cleveland will have one of the most electrifying young wideouts in the league (he just turned 23) and a pairing with Manziel for the next decade could be big business for Browns brass. It doesn’t save Cleveland a substantial amount of money financially to cut Gordon, as his contract is a very-friendly 4 years / $5.3 million and the team saves only about $1 million in cap space if they release him before the last 2 years.

These decisions are largely unprecedented in the NFL. If a player is declining in skill or is an obvious physical menace to society it’s an easy release. If a talented young player’s worst enemy is an addiction than it behooves a team to help their employee get healthy. Here’s hoping the Browns make the right decision – whatever it is.

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