Our preview on the Browns’ exclusive rights free agents continues with WR Josh Gordon.
How and When He Joined the Browns: The Browns used a second-round pick on Gordon way back in the 2012 NFL Supplemental Draft. It’s incredible, and probably unprecedented, that an NFL player is finally reaching ERFA status in what should be his seventh year in the NFL.
Productivity Level Last Season: Gordon was re-instated for the final five games of the 2017 season, which was the first time he’d played in a regular season since 2014. In those 5 games, Gordon caught 18 passes for 335 yards and 1 touchdown. Those aren’t the top-caliber numbers he was hoping to put up, but for a guy thrown into a terrible offense with a bad quarterback, he clearly added a new dynamic to the offense and seemed more focus than he used to be.
Why Keeping Him Could Make Sense: Is this even a question? There have been parts of the past two to three years where Cleveland has featured some of the worst wide receiver groups in the NFL. Gordon has the potential to be a Top-5 wide receiver, and because he’s still on an incredibly cheap tender contract, there is no financial risk. Some may argue that they don’t trust Gordon to stay clean still and the team should trade him, but Cleveland already has plenty of assets: stick with Gordon and see if seeing this through for all these years pays off.
What the Browns Should Do: As I mentioned earlier, this is a unique situation with Gordon. Most ERFAs only have two credited seasons and therefore get a minimum tender around $630,000. We explained back in December why Gordon only has two accrued seasons (therefore making him an ERFA instead of a RFA). When it comes to credited seasons, he has four under his belt, and the minimum tender for that is $790,000.
That would actually be a decline from Gordon’s base salary of $1,068,406 from 2017 (although only $377,084 of that counted toward the cap, the equivalent of six weeks). Some may wonder whether the Browns should just offer Gordon a long-term deal now, so they can lock him up for five years. It would be an incentive for Gordon, who has been low on cash having missed several years of action and might want to get that quick fix of a more lavish lifestyle. I see the advantage of Cleveland doing this to keep him from going elsewhere, but I think they should wait one year before they do so.
Let us know below whether or not the team should try to tender or re-sign Josh Gordon!
Should the Browns tender WR Josh Gordon?
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