If you didn’t hear, the Detroit Lions lost wide receiver Nate Burelson to a broken arm when he crashed his car in the most Detroit Lion way ever: saving a pizza. No alcohol, no speeding; just a man and his pie.
With the loss forcing the Lions to rely on Ryan Broyles as their No. 2 receiver, speculation arose that the team may now be in the market to make a trade. And who has wide receivers for sale? Yep, your Cleveland Browns.
Sunday, there were reports that the Browns were shopping wide receivers Josh Gordon and Greg Little. When asked about it on Monday, head coach Rob Chudzinski said the team had no plans to trade either guy. No one believed him.
If a team is willing to trade the only real healthy running back on its roster, a former No. 3 overall pick who is only in his second year, are we to believe that they wouldn’t trade Little, who had been benched because he can’t hang on to passes, or Gordon, who was fresh off a suspension for a second failed drug test? One more and Gordon will celebrate by missing an entire season.
No one believes that the Browns are married to either guy, even after Gordon’s return saw him score a TD, get 146 yards receiving and 22 yards rushing. Team CEO Joe Banner would trade either man for the right price, everyone in Cleveland is now sure of that.
Now there’s the Lions and their sudden need to acquire someone. The Lions, who made the playoffs in 2011, would like to make their way back. And they’re not going to do it with Broyles, no matter how their spin fans want to spin it.
Could there be a deal coming?
Acquiring Gordon would not come cheap. The Browns would probably demand a first-round pick, possibly a second. Certainly, they would take nothing less. Yes, that threat of a season-long suspension does weaken the Browns’ position somewhat, but not enough for them to give him away. Gordon can be a playmaker, and teams salivate over that sort of potential.
Would the Lions be willing to pay that sort of price? Not right away. They’re in second place, a game behind the 3-0 Chicago Bears. But let that gap grow and they may act quickly because of the threat of losing him to another team. Again, the pass-happy NFL creates a marketplace for guys like Gordon.
Acquiring Little is something else. He could probably be had for a late-round pick, a price the Lions should be happy to pay. It would seem that a trade for Little would be more of what the Lions would do. The Browns, with 10 picks already for 2014, would probably like to get another, as well as send a message to the players that sloppiness will not be tolerated.
So will we see a trade? I’d like to say that in-season trades in the NFL are rare, but after watching Richardson get sent packing, it’s obvious that Banner has no qualms in breaking tradition in order to strengthen the team’s future.
Fans, who melted down when Richardson was traded, would probably support a trade of Little. But what about Gordon? Lose Gordon and the one week of offensive fireworks seen in Week 3 would probably fizzle out. Are fans willing to go back to watching games like the ones they sat through the first two weeks of the season?
I say they would for a first-round pick, and most would for a second-round pick. I don’t think a third-round pick — although it would be the team’s third for that round and could be packaged to bring something better — would get the same level of support.
But one more thing about Banner is obvious; he won’t care what the fans think. It’s not his job to care. It’s his job to strengthen the organization, and if he can get something of value for Gordon, I believe he will.