By Cody Strahm @CodyJStrahm on July 22, 2014
On Monday, Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine was adamant that his team has no plans to cut receiver Josh Gordon, who is facing a full-season ban for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy and was recently arrested in Raleigh, North Carolina for suspicion of DWI. Pettine expects Gordon to be at training camp when the Browns open the 2014 season on Friday. Here are five reasons why keeping Gordon is the right call.
The Browns just nabbed a potential franchise quarterback in Johnny Manziel. Why would they rid themselves of his best weapon? Likely not having Gordon as a rookie could sting, but only if Manziel sees the field, which is no guarantee. Next fall could be his first under center. If that's the case, the Browns should focus on doing whatever they can to have Gordon ready for Manziel's debut.
Like Manziel, the Browns, as a whole, are seeming a year away from legitimately competing. Josh Gordon won't be around for what figures to be another phase of the club's rebuilding project. Big deal. If he's able to overcome his off-field issues and is ready to roll next season, no real harm done.
If the Browns value the well-being of their players at all, they'll do whatever they can to help Gordon rehabilitate his life and career. Is giving up on him really going to help him do either? Yes, the NFL is business. A cutthroat business at that. But now is the time to offer Gordon support, not leave him out to dry.
Let's not forget that we're discussing a 23-year old, meaning Gordon could still have an entire decade of quality-to-elite play left when he returns in 2015 and still has more than enough time to turn his life around to salvage his career. To give up a young talent of Gordon's caliber would be absurd for any team, but especially a rebuilding one like the Browns.
Gordon led the entire NFL in receiving yards with 1,646 in 2013. That was nearly 150 yards more than second place. He also finished second to only Calvin Johnson in yards per route, averaging 2.68 yards every pass pattern. And he did it all while overcoming a two-game suspension and shoddy play from three different starting quarterbacks. He's a special talent who could become a Hall of Fame-caliber receiver if paired with a franchise quarterback.
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