Earlier today, we learned that the NFL has conditionally re-instated Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon. He will be able to participate in training camp and the preseason, but will then serve a four-game suspension to begin the regular season. Monday evening, Gordon released the following statement via his Twitter account:
I'm blessed and grateful to be granted this opportunity. I can’t wait to get back out there and play the game I love in front of the great fans of Cleveland. I want to thank the NFLPA, Commissioner Goodell, the Haslam family and Browns organization, my agent Drew Rosenhaus, as well as my mentors for their continuous support along the way. I've heard only good things from my teammates about the positive direction the organization is heading and I want to do everything I can to be there to help further that process not only for the team but to better myself as well. Thank you.
The Browns certainly have their options when it comes to Gordon — they could release him, trade him, or keep him. I think all signs point to Hue Jackson giving the receiver a legitimate chance to be a part of this club, based on Roger Goodell specifically citing the support system that Gordon has in Cleveland, including his teammates, Jimmy Haslam, and Jim Brown.
I’m OK with the timing and cicrumstances of the suspension. Originally, we thought that in a best-case scenario, Gordon would have a decision within 60 days of August 1st, which would be about a month into the season. By that time, you’ve missed all of training camp and really aren’t well-acclimated to the team or the offense. The chemistry can be completely thrown into disarray.
With Goodell’s ruling, Gordon will basically still serve the same waiting period in which he can’t play, but when he’s ready to return in Week 5, he’ll have been able to bond with his teammates again and stay in shape through the preseason. By not distancing him from the Browns, maybe, just maybe, the team can keep Gordon under control this time.
Gordon’s presence on the roster could shake up the team’s thought process at the receiver position. While I don’t think Corey Coleman or Andrew Hawkins will be impacted, the other starting receiver spot — likely between Terrelle Pryor and Rashard Higgins — could still be up for grabs in Week 5. If Pryor doesn’t have a sharp camp, there’s less incentive for him to stick around now too — one of the expected roster spots for a receiver is being taken away, and it’s likely not being taken away from a rookie.
In Week 5, we could be looking at Coleman, Hawkins, Gordon, Higgins, Ricardo Louis, and Jordan Payton on the roster. If those players are all on the team, is Pryor going to be anything more than a fifth receiver? If so, what’s the point of him being on the roster? Don’t get me wrong, I’m still rooting for Pryor this camp, but when you work through the numbers, he figures to be the most-likely odd man out.