Last year, the Cleveland Browns had to wait four long months before learning just before the start of the regular season that top wide receiver Josh Gordon would indeed face a season-long ban (later reduced to ten games). After Gordon's latest offense, the NFL didn't make the Browns wait long this time around, announcing his one-year ban, effective immediately:
"Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns has been suspended without pay for at least one year for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. Gordon's suspension begins immediately."
That means that Gordon should be eligible for reinstatement to the league at the beginning of February 2016. If there is any hope for Gordon resurrecting his career in Cleveland, this is at least the most ideal time for a ban to kick in because it means Gordon could take part in all of the team's offseason programs to prepare for the regular season. After learning of the ban, Browns GM Ray Farmer had strong words for Gordon, who has again let down the organization down:
"As we have conveyed, we are disappointed to once again be at this point with Josh. Throughout his career we have tried to assist him in getting support like we would with any member of our organization. Unfortunately our efforts have not resonated with him. It is evident that Josh needs to make some substantial strides to live up to the positive culture we are trying to build this football team upon. Our hope is that this suspension affords Josh the opportunity to gain some clarity in determining what he wants to accomplish moving forward and if he wants a career in the National Football League. We will have no further comment on Josh as he will not be permitted in our facility for the duration of his suspension."
We previously pointed out that from a financial perspective, there is no incentive in cutting Gordon. The one-year ban would keep Gordon under contract with the Browns through 2016, and because he'd be a restricted free agent in 2017, Cleveland could easily afford the rights to him for another two seasons if they so choose to. If the Browns cut him, it will be because they no longer want to be associated with the negative reputation he has brought to the team, or have to worry about whether they could depend on him when he comes back (i.e. what if the Browns are in the middle of a playoff push in 2016 and Gordon screws up again).