May 21, 2014; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) during organized team activities at Cleveland Browns practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Browns: How does cutting Josh Gordon make the team better?

In the twenty four hours since the news was announced that Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon was cited for a speeding ticket and one of his three passengers (identity still unknown) admitted to possessing marijuana, the reaction has been loud and angry.  Most critics are loudly demanding for the Browns simply cut Gordon and my question is simple:  How are the Browns a better football team if they cut Josh Gordon right now?  Most of the reasons that people will bring up are flimsy and easily disprovable.  The fact of the matter is that while people can be furious with Gordon and no has to like him, there is no benefit in cutting him right now and most of the supposed benefits that people suggest the Browns would get from cutting him are actually already included in his likely suspension.

Josh Gordon has terrible judgment.  This is not even a question.  Legally, the speeding ticket is all Gordon will be cited for from this incident, but no one should give Gordon the benefit of the doubt.  He is going to be lucky to get past this with only a ticket, but that is all anyone can pin on him beyond simply being stupid.  The best case scenario is that Gordon was simply putting himself in a car with people who were smoking weed.

Many calling for the Browns to cut Gordon are citing the fact that he could possibly influence Johnny Manziel or other teammates negatively and possibly drag them down.  While that is unlikely on its face, even if that were to be true, when the league comes down with a suspension, Gordon cannot have contact with anyone from the team.  When he was out for two games last year, he was essentially cut off from the Browns entirely.  As a result, that argument is bogus.

There are some suggesting the Browns need to send a message that this is unacceptable.  What message could the Browns possibly send that the league would not already be sending?  He is likely facing a yearlong suspension and just like last year where he was not paid for four games, this year he would not get a dime for the entire year.  What more can the Browns do?  In addition to being a pariah to the team and the city and not getting paid, Josh gets to be a free agent too?  Wouldn’t it be more difficult for Josh to have to suit again with this team and in this city to prove he can be a professional?

So what does it cost the Browns to keep Josh Gordon?  Less than a million in cap space and he does not even cost them a roster spot.  If Gordon was making a substantial amount of money, cutting him would make sense.  As it is, he is entering the last year of his deal and while he will not get a dime of it should he be suspended, it is not even 1% of the team’s salary cap.

If the Browns were to cut him, he misses a year and then comes back and signs a one year contract for somewhere between $2-5 million in a prove it deal and even gives them half of what he gave the Browns last year, it is a huge boost.  Is the catharsis of the fans and media asking for Gordon to be released that important to give another team a potent weapon?

The last bad argument I’ve heard is that Gordon simply cannot be relied upon, doesn’t care, and therefore the Browns cannot win with him.  If Gordon didn’t care and put up 1,646 and 9 touchdowns with the trio of terrible quarterbacks the Browns had last season, what could he do if he suddenly did care?  Moreover, the league is full of players and teams that have been multiple time screw-ups and helped teams win.  The Seattle Seahawks lead the league in substance abuse related suspensions since 2011 with 7, because Richard Sherman’s was overturned.  That does NOT include suspensions for PEDs.  The Seahawks just won the Super Bowl.  You can’t win with these guys?  Evidently, you can.

Brandon Browner had to fight a yearlong suspension and after becoming a free agent, signed with another team that would supposedly not put up with this nonsense in the New England Patriots.  That year’s suspension was reduced to four games, but the Patriots signed him anyway.

Josh Gordon’s track record shows he gets one drug arrest per season.  He may full well give the Browns a reason to cut him, but this traffic stop is not it.  The NFL has not even announced the length of Gordon’s upcoming suspension.  If the NFL comes back and says Gordon will only miss 6-8 games, most of the people who wanted him cut will suddenly change their mind and hope he can he put up 1,000 yards in the remainder of the season.

And especially with the media in and around Cleveland, many of those clamoring for Gordon to be cut now, were hoping the Browns would draft Tyrann Mathieu when he was coming out of LSU with a history of about a dozen failed drug tests in his time there.  At the very least there is a disconnect here if not outright hypocrisy.

It remains to be seen if Josh Gordon will ever play another NFL game in his career, but if he does, it should be in a Browns uniform at least for the time being.  The second round pick used to get him is a sunk cost and these moves by Gordon have made his bargaining power almost nonexistent when it comes to a new contract.  If he can use a yearlong suspension to find rock bottom and decide that catching footballs more fun than smoking weed, the Browns could have a phenomenally talented redemption story that could help them win a Super Bowl down the road.  If he can’t, his career will go up in smoke.

Cutting him for the sake of catharsis does not actually benefit the team.  It would likely do just as much good to have angered fans and media line up around the block in Berea to punch Josh Gordon in the stomach.  That’s how irrational this whole situation is when it comes to cutting Gordon.  Making angered critics feel better for half a second does not make the team better.  The vast majority of the same fans that insisted they never wanted LeBron James back after the ‘The Decision’ are now hoping and praying that he comes back to Cleveland.  If the Browns cut Gordon and he goes on to great things elsewhere, fans will be angry the Browns got rid of him and wish he was back.

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Tags: Cleveland Browns Josh Gordon

  • davewr58

    You missed the point, Peter. Cutting him is 1. Exactly what he deserves and needs as a wakeup call, and 2. It sends a message that the Browns won’t coddle dopers who have had multiple chances to reform. Gordon is either the dumbest guy on the planet or addicted to marijuana so badly that he can’t quit. Either way, how does that help the Browns by keeping him??

    • Pete Smith

      Since when does any of this have to do with the word ‘deserve’? That’s incredibly naive.
      Second, when did the Browns decide that was their message? Is that their message or YOUR message?
      How does it help them to keep him? He had 1646 yards and 9 touchdowns last year. If he plays any of this year or next, he is a dominant weapon.

      • davewr58

        One last thought, Peter, to help you understand where I’m coming from regarding Gordon. As a manager for a top Fortune 500 company for many years, I had the unpleasant task of firing many individuals like Josh. And, yes, some of them were “stars”. The reasons were varied, but often it was because they just didn’t “get it” after we tried to explain why they needed to change their behavior. By “we” I mean myself, H.R. and one or more of our psychologists. Gordon doesn’t get it. It may be because he feels entitled, or because he has some real emotional problems which will require more than a month or two in counseling. What bothers me about your argument to keep him is that you seem to be more concerned with what he can bring to the Browns offense, then the obvious problem(s) he has to overcome. Is he a tool in the toolbox or an emotionally scarred human? Do his yards really matter to this team? They didn’t seem to last year.

        And what if they do keep him? How long will he be there … a year … two years before he relapses and is banned from the league? And what message is sent if he is kept … that it is okay to constantly screw up and “get away with it”? That will go over great in the locker room!

        There are too many kids in the NFL who become instant millionaires and never mature and accept the responsibilities that all of that fame and money brings. Josh seems to be one of those guys, and based on my experience, he won’t magically change without the help I’ve mentioned. I hope the NFL bans him for at least a year and that he uses that year to get professional help before he totally self-destructs.

        Kids like Josh need to learn that there are consequences to their actions. He can’t be brought back this season and learn that valuable lesson in my opinion.

        • Mark J

          So, if the Browns cut Josh Gordon then he is out of the NFL forever?

          • davewr58

            My guess is some team will be dumb enough to take a chance on him, but eventually, without professional intervention, he will be banned for good.

          • Mark J

            So if the Browns cut him, he won’t “learn his lesson” or whatever, because he’ll still play in the NFL?… maybe even at a higher salary than he makes now, if he clears waivers.

            And then, ultimately, his fate will be decided by how he deals with his suspension and continued testing by the NFL?

            So really, the message is you can’t play in Cleveland if you’re a druggie, but you can play in the NFL? Who the eff cares? You’d need a guy whose motivation for playing in Cleveland is stronger than having a job in the NFL. Good luck with that one.

            tl; dr; Your reasons for cutting him are stupid, have no logic, and have no relevance to the NFL.

          • davewr58

            Sorry Mark, but the Browns have tried incredibly hard to help the is guy and he has repeatedly shown that he is incapable (or too stupid) to receive that help. You are looking at him like a tool … use him until he brakes and then throw him out of the tool box. My last comment was just a response to yours … yes, I think a team (like Oakland) will be dumb enough to take him even though he will most definitely fail again at his drug next test. My point is that Gordon has an addictive personality and will NOT change unless he takes at least a year off to receive intensive physiological counseling. Think about the guy for a minute and forget the Browns … he is crying out for help … not football!!

  • davewr58

    I have been a big supporter of his for a long time, but this last incident is a slap in the face to everyone in the Browns organization who have been trying so hard to help this kid. I think he has used up his chances and should be cut to send the message that the Browns will try to help a player in a reasonable manner, but if the player refuses the help, he gets a ticket out of Cleveland. Gordon is either the dumbest guy on earth or has a marijuana addiction so bad that he just refuses to even try to shake it. Either way, this does nothing to help morale in the locker room and causes the press to have a negative, continual focus on him to the detriment of the team. Also, how do you rationalize the fact that he has also had three speeding tickets in the last year … the last one with a friend who had marijuana. Seems like he can’t pick his friends either. Dominant weapon or not, he has gotten to the point where he is a detriment to the image of the team and the city. Bye Bye Josh!

    • Sam Gold


  • Sam Gold

    Kudos! Dustin Fox, please jump off a bridge. Seriously.

  • Christopher Thompson

    I would not cut him for a simple speeding ticket guys its one speeding ticket and he didn’t get busted with the weed regardless of it was his or not the fact of the matter is he wasn’t busted with weed in the presence yes now if it comes out that he fails a drug test because of it that’s different but a speeding ticket no… it still hasn’t been confirmed if he failed or missed a test and how long his suspension if any will be at that point make that determination

  • Doug Myers

    You’re an idiot! You should start covering curling up in Canada. “He just happened to be speeding while his friends were smoking weed in his car”. get a freakin clue, or are you just really that stupid? I have a 10 year old boy i watch the games with and this is the last person we need representing this city! How about they cut him to uphold the moral integrity of what’s right in this world. I’m sorry but you are absolutely wrong and i would be fired From my job here in Ohio for one failed drug test. I can’t get over how stupid you are!

    • Pete Smith

      That’s not actually what I said about the weed in the car, but given the range of verbage and eloquence throughout the rest of your comment, that is not a huge surprise. Thank you for the kind words. Life isn’t fair. If you were extraordinary at your job, they’d work around a drug issue. Gordon is extraordinary at his and talent, in this world, tends to trump most things. Welcome to reality.

      • Doug Myers

        LOL, so because he can run and catch a ball he should be held to a lower standard in society. Especially when he has children looking up to him. Absolutely ridiculous, and you make my point from the previous comment for me. Stupid people make me laugh. I really hope no one pays you to write this junk

        • Pete Smith

          It has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with sports, the game of football, and the NFL. Players do get second and third chances if they talent. Hall of Fame players like Lawrence Taylor, Michael Irvin, Cris Carter, Brett Favre all had various issues with drugs like cocaine or pain killers. As pointed out in the article, the Seahawks won the Super Bowl with plenty of guys who failed drug tests. Ben Roethlisberger is still the starting QB in Pittsburgh.

          So while your moral compass may be great for your life, it does not apply to the NFL or sports in general and they don’t hold nearly the standard you do. It’s incredibly naive to expect the Browns to hold their players to your morality

      • Doug Myers

        I pray you do not raise children of your own. But if you do, I’m sure Josh Gordon will be putting on a camp soon in order to make some spending money. I’m sure you could send them there and donate to his cause

        • Sam Gold

          Hope you didn’t pull anything climbing way up there on your high horse. Personal attacks on someone’s character are certainly warranted based on a few paragraphs in a sports blog.

        • John Duquette

          Whoa Doug please take your Meds on time a bit of an overreaction me thinks

          • John Duquette

            Please ignore this comment it was meant to apply to your comment above re “the idiot thing”

        • josh

          I think it’s pretty sad that you raise kids Doug Myers. You clearly lack forgiveness, and judge people you’ve never met. You are also extremely rude and arrogant. Someone disagrees with you so they are stupid? If my child had only two choices for a person to look up to- one was a cordial and respecting person who smokes weed (josh gordon), and the other was a rude, demeaning, arrogant, self righteous, disrespectful, judgemental jerk (you)- I’m choosing the pothead. He might turn out a good person rather than the likes of you.
          -And believe me, I think Gordon is being an idiot too, but you are another level.

      • trinity

        It’s not right, but at least you admit it. People always try to spin situations like this to make it different than what it really is. They express “sympathy” and say that they are giving the screwup another chance so that they can be supportive and “help them”. No. The real answer is what you’re saying. It doesn’t matter how stupid you are. Impulse control doesn’t matter, sound decision making doesn’t matter, drugs don’t matter, self destructive tendencies don’t matter. As long as you can catch a ball and run fast, we’ll look the other way. It’s sad. Gordon will be gone sooner or later. Talent means nothing if you’re going to be serving drug suspensions all the time, and his history and current actions indicate no remorse and no inclination to stop what he’s doing. He wil most likely keep self destructing until he is banned.

    • theOtherJimBrown

      Too bad there isn’t consequences for being a narrow minded, hotheaded blow hard.

  • trinity

    I would not cut him for the ticket. I would cut him for everything else. 1 drug arrest a year? He could be as good as Megatron and it wouldn’t matter if the idiot couldn’t stay off drugs. Sooner or later they are going to have to address it, because history shows he’s not sorry and he won’t stop.

  • Josh Hart

    He shouldn’t be flat out cut. That’d be stupid. But if he was traded for players and/or picks, I wouldn’t complain.

  • Clayton Braham

    I hope the vast majority of comments made in response to this article are not a microcosm for the train of thought of a majority of Browns fans as a whole. Peter, great job with the article and even better job responding to some of the criticism in the comment section. Some of these reactions are downright shocking, especially considering you’ve given strong, recent examples of success for teams taking a shot on athletes who have “character” and “drug” relates Issues. I don’t believe Ray Farmer, Mike Pettine or Jimmy Haslam should or will consider the ethical consequences inherited by sticking with a player in Josh’s situation, nor should they. Some of the Dad’s on here need to relax. Weed is decriminalized in this generation and while Gordon’s judgement hasn’t been spot on, he is 23 years old, living in a much different era than those who see his actions as offensive in nature. I’d love to meet someone who hasn’t messed up multiple times in their early 20′s. The bottom line is that Josh Gordon is a freak of nature on the football field. Given how young, cheap, and talented Gordon is…there isn’t even a debate about whether to keep him or not. I personally think the fact that Peter had to point this out for a large number of Browns fans is sad. Go Browns. Excited to see Josh back on the field in a Browns uniform, whenever that may be

    • Sam Gold

      Great comment!

      “I personally think the fact that Peter had to point this out for a large number of Browns fans is sad.”

      This would be true of every fanbase; Brown’s fans are not unique in this regard.

      • John Duquette

        So he likes to smoke a joint big deal! who doesn’t? and yes I realize it is against NFL rules. The main issue as I see it is his choice of buds when your a celebrity you gotta be careful, lot of bad folks out there, Josh. To conclude maybe the NFL should be looking a it’s Marijuana rules

        • Sam Gold

          What does this have to do with me or my comment?

          • John Duquette

            Absolutely nothing; just my personal take on the severity of the crime. My main issue is his lack of good judgement in choosing buds to hang out with. My perception on smoking a joint are my personal point of view on Marijuana usage regardless of the status of the individual pot smoker

          • Sam Gold

            If that’s the case just curious why you didn’t respond directly to the author or the comment that inspired your response. Conversations and debates begin as two or more people have points of view about a common topic. Yours appears unrelated to mine yet is in direct response to mine. That seems odd.

          • John Duquette

            Hopefully I can clarify my original intentions here and put this cyberspace tempest on gridiron to bed for all time. My original comments were directed to Mr. Doug Myers rant against Peter his choice of language calling Peter an idiot is complete off base and his derogatory comments are also completely unacceptable. My meager computer skills caused the comment to appear under your input. As I mentioned in my original mea culpa the letter it had nothing to do with your comments or position on this subject. One comment of yours on the final response I cannot let go is the lecture on the evolution of conversations and debates on any issue. Trust me sir I do not need your definitions or self righteous proclamations on how to debate

          • Sam Gold

            Since none of your responses seemed to grasp this basic premise, proclamations were exactly what you needed and received. Better luck in your future efforts.

    • Hatfield

      Agreed 100%

  • Jerry Desaulniers

    The moral issue as stated by Doug Myers should be considered, children are watching. But to me another issue that is very important is TEAM! Football is a team sport and all starts with the coach and all players respecting and obeying him. So with that said do you think Josh Gordon is respecting and obeying the coach and the TEAM when he allows someone to smoke weed in his car as they drive down the street. If your the coach you have only two options, 1) Cut him very soon. 2) Give him 7 days to check into a rehab or cut him. I say this because maybe a good rehab facility can teach him what he obviously needs to learn.

  • steve

    when you realize you live in a double standard world you will not let things like this
    bother you anymore…and on the other hand if you have ever partied before in your life at any time
    you cant say anything about someone else doing it….the only thing that josh did to piss me off was telling his bro mr. little to go on to bigger better things….maybe he didnt mean anything by it but…remember like the pres. bill c. said….i didnt inhale!!!
    so go play your sax and pull for the browns…as bad as everything gets….we still have a team to watch!!!!!!!!!
    GO BROWNS!!!!!!!!!!!!
    i was way worse than josh will EVER be so i speak from experience…he will grow out of it….im pullin for you buddy…… are the best WR in the world so try and stop drinking your own koolaid long enough to get you head straight and what you leave behind will be awsome….

  • Michael J. McCabe

    At least he didn’t kill or have knowledge of a murder like Ray Lewis.

  • Pooperson

    Lots if incorrect assumptions in this article that look like straw men you set up just to reach your 500 word requirement or something… 1) the people who want to cut Josh are the same people who want us to draft kids with drug problems.. Huh??? Where does that even come from??? 2) the people who hate Lebron want him to come back to Cleveland…. Ummmm no we don’t because we hate him.