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Josh Gordon facing key deadline this week

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NFL rules set August 7 as deadline to report and earn a season of playing time toward free agency.

NFL: Cleveland Browns-Minicamp Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Is this the week that wide receiver Josh Gordon makes his return to the Cleveland Browns?

It could be and the reason may be as much financial as anything, according to Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk.

Because the Browns placed Gordon on the reserve/did not report list at the start of training camp, if he does not report to the team by this Tuesday (August 7), he will not earn a year of credit toward free agency no matter how many games he plays this season.

Gordon has been sitting on two years of credit toward free agency since the end of the 2013 regular season. He has only played 10 games since then - five in 2014 and five in 2017 - and if he does not accrue another year of credit this season, the Browns will retain him as an exclusive-rights free agent for another year, keeping him with the team at a low price through 2019.

Tuesday is a key day as it marks 30 days before the start of the NFL regular season, which is the target date set forth by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, according to Pro Football Talk:

Per Article 8, Section 1(b) of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, “A player shall not receive an Accrued Season for any League Year in which the player is under contract to a Club and in which he failed to report to such Club at least thirty days prior to the first regular season game of that season.”

It’s worth noting that it appears that a player only needs to report to their club - it doesn’t say anything about practicing or remaining with the club. Given Gordon’s history, and the Browns willingness to support him as he works through his personal challenges, it is not hard to see a scenario where Gordon reports prior to the deadline, but then the Browns let him leave again as part of his ongoing rehabilitation.

This was already going to be an exciting week for the Browns as the team opens the preseason Thursday night against the New York Giants.

The Gordon news just turns up the interest level even more.