The Browns are moving on from Josh Gordon.
Josh Gordon wasn’t supposed to start for the Cleveland Browns in Week 1. He ended up making the team’s best offensive player, catching a touchdown pass that tied the game at 21-21 in the fourth quarter. That touchdown would prove to be the final score of the game, breaking the Browns winless streak.
Despite his promising performance in Week 1, Gordon was ruled out for Week 2 with a hamstring injury. Gordon didn’t appear to be injured, and it honestly seemed like he would get a bigger role in Week 2 after not playing every snap in the opener.
Now, we know what’s really going on. The Browns will release Gordon, who will be inactive this Sunday, on Monday. Below is a statement released by Browns general manager John Dorsey. The organization wishes Gordon well going forward, but they felt it was best to part ways with the star receiver.
The timing of Gordon’s release is shocking. Cleveland has stood by him for years despite the suspensions and the lack of guarantees that he would be able to play. They’ve support him through this, pushing Gordon to find the help he needs in this battle with addiction. Gordon’s struggle is something some fans of the organization can surely relate to, so it is disappointing to see that he will no longer stay with the team.
It’s fair to wonder why the Browns decided to release Gordon less than a week after he scored a critical touchdown against a division rival to break the team’s winless streak. Gordon seemed to be playing productive football. Is he at risk of a future suspension? Did something else happen behind the scenes? Will we find out why Jackson said he wouldn’t start in Week 1 before ultimately playing him on almost 80-percent of the Browns snaps?
There are so many questions.
For the Browns, the most important questions going forward relate to their unproven group of wide receivers behind Jarvis Landry. Rashard Higgins looks like the best of the bunch, and the former Colorado State star will be tasked with producing more this season. He has the talent and has always been a solid route-runner, but can he take the next step as a playmaker?
The Browns also have David Njoku at tight end and Duke Johnson as a great pass-catching back for current starter Tyrod Taylor to work with. Whether it’s Baker Mayfield or Taylor under center, the Browns have pieces on offense. It’s just that they don’t have someone with Gordon’s playmaking ability, star power, or mismatch making vertically or on the outside. He will be missed by this offense, though it is fair to say the Browns are used to playing without him.
Rookie receiver Antonio Callaway has his own question-marks, but he isn’t short on talent either. He looks like the “next man up” for the Browns in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints after not being a factor against Pittsburgh. This is Callaway’s time to shine, so Browns fans will hope he can make an impact as a rookie receiver as a fourth-round pick.
Gordon has enough talent to potentially latch on somewhere else, but since the Browns decided to cut ties with him, there’s a chance other teams will want to stay away. Gordon’s NFL future is in serious doubt, especially since the circumstances around his release are unknown. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him suit up somewhere, but his chances of seeing the field again are far from a guarantee. That’s a sad thought to dwell on in the aftermath of this news.