Earlier today, reports leaked that Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon is facing a one-year ban after failing another drug test. Upon hearing the news, a spokesman for the Browns released the following statement:
"Clearly we are very disappointed to hear the latest report regarding Josh. At this point, due to the confidential nature of the NFL's substance abuse policy, we have not been made aware by the league of a failed test. We are in the process of gathering more information and will provide further comment at the appropriate time."
The big question the Browns will face this offseason is whether or not they should keep Gordon. When Cleveland first selected him in the 2012 NFL Supplemental Draft, he agreed to a four-year rookie deal, meaning he would have been a free agent in 2016.
Crazy about Josh Gordon. His contract now will run to 2016 and because of that 1 game pull in week 17 hell be RFA in 2017— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) January 25, 2015
The one-year banishment would change matters, as Jason from Over The Cap points out. The final year of Gordon's contract (initially 2015), in which he was supposed to make $1.068 million, would be deferred until 2016. Then, Gordon would potentially* be a restricted free agent in 2017 instead of an unrestricted free agent. Because an RFA price tag is not expensive, if the Browns chose to, they would basically own the rights to Gordon through the 2017 season with very little financial obligation.
*When the Browns suspensed Gordon in Week 17 of the 2014 season, that would be the difference between Gordon being a RFA or an URFA in 2017. The suspension means Gordon was only eligible to play in 5 games in 2014, but you need four years of 6+ games in order to bypass the RFA period.
From a salary cap perspective, this is a no brainer: stash Gordon and hope the guy somehow turns it around. That's not the only factor that comes into play, though. Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer could outright cut Gordon to send a message that unreliable conduct won't be tolerated. I mean, this is already the fifth time that Gordon has failed a test, according to reports. He's already had his second, third, fourth, and fifth chances.
What do you think, Browns fans? Should Cleveland cut Gordon, or should they continue to hold his rights at very little expense?