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Josh Gordon Applies for Reinstatement; Browns Could Control Contract for 2 More Years

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This morning, Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland broke the news that Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon has filed for reinstatement to the NFL. Gordon was banned from the NFL for one year back on February 3, 2015. According to Grossi, "terms of the suspension allow Gordon to apply for reinstatement as early as 60 days prior to the one-year anniversary of the date of the letter informing him of his banishment." Gordon decided to wait until ~13 days before his anniversary date to file for reinstatement.

What About Gordon's Contract Situation?

Gordon was drafted by the Browns in 2012, and most players on their rookie deal, like Gordon, have four-year contracts. Therefore, if he had been a rule-abiding player the duration of his NFL career, Gordon would have been an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Because he was suspended all of 2015, though, that year tolls to 2016.

It appears as though the Browns will actually control the rights to Gordon in 2017 too, though. If you recall, the Browns suspended Gordon in Week 17 of the 2014 season, which means he only played in 5 games that season. That does not count as an accrued season, and players need at least three accrued seasons on their rookie deal to be an unrestricted free agent instead of a restricted free agent. Last February, Gordon filed a grievance through the NFLA, petitioning that the 2014 season count as an accrued season.

For nearly a year, though, we hadn't heard anything about the situation. When The OBR asked Gordon about it last month, even he didn't seem to know what his contract situation was. I asked Jason from Over the Cap if he had heard anything about Gordon's contract, and he said he had not, speculating that maybe the grievance hearing would not be heard until Gordon's reinstatement. Joel Corry of CBS Sports tells us that Gordon will be a restricted free agent in 2017, which seems to indicate that Gordon lost his grievance:

Grossi's report also indicates that Gordon will be a restricted free agent in 2017. That means that if Gordon returned to his dynamic roots over the next two years, the Browns could even use the franchise tag on him in 2018 to keep him for another year. What's the point of all this? Basically, the Browns don't have to worry about paying Gordon the big bucks just yet on a new contract. They can be patient with him to make sure he doesn't have another "incident" before investing in him again.