Last night, I was watching a show that covers the Cleveland Browns with opinions from a panel of experts. One of the people on this show is a very well-respected member of the Browns media. The topic came up concerning reports that the Browns were talking to the San Francisco 49ers about a trade for WR Josh Gordon in exchange for a second-round pick.
Asked if he thought the Browns would really trade Gordon, the media member looked upset by the question — almost shocked. He insisted the Browns would not trade Gordon. His reaction seemed emotionally charged. I can’t blame him. He has to cover this team full-time. Who wants to see the plug pulled already?
But the question: Will the Browns trade Gordon? Probably not. Would they? I believe they would. Why? Team CEO Joe Banner has answered this many times: it’s all about value.
Gordon may be the only offensive star on this roster. Never mind that drop in wide open space on Thursday night against the Buffalo Bills; he can catch and run. He can make plays. If he were to be traded, the offense would lose their only real threat at the position. Travis Benjamin only becomes a threat when he gets isolation. Outside of a wide receiver screen, he doesn’t get that without Gordon.
Trade away Gordon, and the Browns have traded away the 2013 season. So would they do it? You betcha.
The only thing against Gordon is the possibility of a third drug suspension that would cause him to miss a year. We can all climb up on our high horses and ask how someone could really be that stupid, but this is a guy that’s been busted on five drug tests that we know of: three in college, two in the pros.
He’s risked his opportunities in the past, so why should anyone believe that he’ll never risk them again? I hope he doesn’t no matter who he plays for, but it is a risk. It does hurt his value.
We joke about looking at the 2014 NFL Draft already, but it’s the team’s job to be looking at it constantly, as well as upcoming free agency. I don’t know, but I would think that somewhere, there is a two- or three-year board of draft prospects, as well as free agents.
When it’s your job to run a billion dollar company, you don’t sit around and wait to see what Mel Kiper Jr. thinks. You’re way out ahead of that. Armed with that knowledge and responsibility, you have to look beyond 2013. You can’t have the look that I saw on that media member’s face. You must have a plan.
If it would optimize that plan, the deal would get done, even if it sabotaged 2013. Of course, NFL deals don’t typically get done through trades, especially for draft picks. Teams know that to stay under the salary cap, they have to rotate in the draft picks and the young guys. And, of course, the trade would have to optimize both teams’ plans, making a deal even less likely.
But the question is would Banner trade him? Without blinking. Joe Banner doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy that will shy away from a move because people are going to revolt by sending emails to the team’s offices demanding their season ticket money back (See: Richardson Trade).
If he thinks he can get something worth more to the organization than what he is giving up, the guy will make the deal. And right now, he needs deals to stock this flawed roster.
So, Browns fans and respected members of the media, I suggest you hold off on buying a Browns jersey anytime soon. No one on this roster is beyond being traded.