Earlier this week, the Cleveland Browns completed one of the most shocking trades of the modern NFL era, shipping 2012 first-round pick Trent Richardson to Indianapolis in exchange for the Colts' 2014 first-round selection.
Despite what the Cleveland front office may be saying publicly, it is evident that the Browns are already looking beyond the 2013 season, and Richardson is unlikely to be the last high-profile player to be traded.
In fact, ESPN's Adam Schefter has already reported that the Browns are shopping No. 1 wide receiver Josh Gordon.
Gordon, taken with a second-round pick in last summer's supplemental draft, has already established himself as the Browns' top receiving threat and could provide a lot of help for a receiver-needy team if a trade is made.
At 6'3" and 225 pounds, Gordon has the size and skill set of a legitimate No. 1 wideout, as evidenced by his 805-yard, five-touchdown rookie season. His performance in Sunday's win against the Minnesota Vikings (146 yards receiving, 22 yards rushing and a touchdown) proves just how big of a game-changer he can be.
However, Gordon's big game comes on the heels of a two-game suspension for violation of the league's substance abuse policy, making him a risk as well as a potential reward.
While Cleveland is unlikely to part with Gordon for anything less than the second-round pick it has invested in him, the former Baylor star could be the missing piece a team with talent needs to make a serious playoff push this season.
The offense of the 2013 Patriots has been uncharacteristically unproductive, thanks in large part to a lack of top-tier receiving options.
Star quarterback Tom Brady has been forced to make due with mostly unproven young receivers and has struggled to play at his usual elite level because of it.
Perhaps the biggest issue for the Patriots has been the absence of a legitimate deep threat. The release of Brandon Lloyd and issues at the tight end position have left Brady with a group of receivers that limits his ability to strike deep (his longest pass against the Buccaneers on Sunday was 30 yards).
Gordon could change all of that.
As a rookie in 2012, Gordon averaged an impressive 16.1 yards per reception. His 47-yard touchdown reception against the Vikings on Sunday gave just a glimpse on what kind of a downfield threat he could be for Brady.
Since being drafted second overall back in 2007, wideout Calvin Johnson has established himself as one of the league's top offensive playmakers and the top weapon in Detroit's arsenal.
The Lions brought in running back Reggie Bush during the offseason to help divert some defensive attention away from Johnson, but the Detroit offense could be especially dangerous with another playmaking receiver attacking downfield.
While Detroit does have to contend with three talented division rivals—two of whom made appearances in the 2012 postseason—the Lions have a legitimate chance to emerge from the NFC North as a playoff team this season.
If the Lions were to pull the trigger on a midseason trade for Gordon, it would give them an offense capable of going up against the best the NFL has to offer.
It would be nearly impossible for opposing defenses to double-team both Gordon and Johnson on a regular basis, and doing so would really open things up for Bush underneath.
The question is what exactly the Browns would accept in exchange for Gordon, who comes with his fair share of off-field issues.
Detroit recently parted ways with one troubled wideout in Titus Young and may not be willing to part ways with a first- or second-round pick to take on another.
However, the Chargers have been surprisingly competitive despite a 1-2 start to the season. Through three weeks, McCoy and quarterback Philip Rivers have managed to coax 78 points out of an offense that appears to lack a true No. 1 receiving threat.
Sure, tight end Antonio Gates (55 yards and a touchdown in Week 3) seems to have regained some of his star form, and wideout Eddie Royal (148 yards and five touchdowns on the year) has been a very pleasant surprise.
However, neither player has consistently dominated games the way a receiver like Gordon can. A trio of Gates, Gordon and Royal might even make the Chargers offense as formidable as the one gaining so much praise over in Denver.
The Chargers have an opportunity to contend in the AFC West this season but will have to make a move quickly before falling too far behind. Gordon might be just the weapon to help them surge forward.
After watching Gordon tear up the Vikings defense on Sunday, it may be difficult for the Browns to pull the trigger on a trade, unless the right deal comes along.
Due to character concerns, New England might be only team really willing to make that offer.
The Patriots are no strangers to taking on questionable character players, and Gordon certainly fits the mold.
Given the fact that Gordon would provide Brady with the type of deep threat he hasn't enjoyed since the days of Randy Moss, it seems to make too much sense for Gordon to wind up anywhere other than New England.
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