How much is Josh Gordon worth to the Cleveland Browns?
With the NFL trade deadline being at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 29, the star wide receiver has been battling a variety of trade rumors over the past three weeks, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal Online:
I’m tired of it,” Gordon said Wednesday before practice. “I honestly wish if it was going to happen, I wish it would happen already instead of dragging on. If a trade offer came in and that’s what the Browns want to do, so be it. If not, then let it be known this is where I’m going to be. Honestly, it’s part of the game. I’m dealing with it."
Team CEO Joe Banner, head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner have all stated that the club is not actively seeking to move Gordon, Ulrich noted in the same piece:
If you’re in this long enough, you learn to never say anything absolute, because then something comes up and you look like you lied. I personally — and I think anybody here — would be completely shocked if we ended up trading him. Josh is playing great. He’s working his butt off.
The Cleveland front office is obviously not going to ignore phone calls for the sophomore playmaker, but what would it take to pull the trigger and move him?
Trent Richardson garnered a first-round draft pick, giving Cleveland two picks in the opening round next May. Would collecting another first-round selection be enough value for the Browns to deal their top receiver?
"Flash" Gordon was a second-round supplemental draft choice in 2012 by the previous regime in Cleveland. He has put up more receiving yards and touchdowns in his career than any wide receiver taken in the opening 32 selections of that class.
Neither Justin Blackmon (fifth), Michael Floyd (13th), Kendall Wright (20th) nor A.J. Jenkins (30th) have produced the 1,387 yards and eight scores that Gordon has in Cleveland.
This year's wide receiver draft crop of Tavon Austin (eighth), DeAndre Hopkins (27th) and Cordarrelle Patterson (29th) aren't blowing anyone away with their rookie numbers either.
Any of those clubs would surely take Gordon's downfield talent in a heartbeat over their choices if given the opportunity.
So the gamble for Cleveland becomes whether choosing an unknown is worth the risk in losing Gordon, who has outperformed the last pair of first-round wideout groups.
However, the issue with the Houston native is his two strikes in the NFL's substance abuse policy program. He was suspended for two games to start this season. One more infraction for him means banishment for an entire year.
Still only 22, there is definitely a risk that he could foul up again and then the Browns would get nothing to replace him.
That may be, but Gordon could also roll an ankle, tear an ACL or fall victim to any number of long-term injuries. The Browns would be without any compensation in any of those scenarios as well.
The point is that at 6'3" and 225 pounds, Gordon and his elite athleticism shouldn't be shipped out of town because of an acquired draft pick(s) alone. Another option for the Browns could be a high draft choice and a player coming back in exchange for "Flash".
The trouble there is that any franchise looking to make that type of bold acquisition at this point in the schedule is likely one that already considers itself a playoff contender.
This would imply a lower-end draft selection in whatever round is offered. The returning piece, presumably another receiver to replace Gordon, would not be an impact type because the team they would trade with needs any impact player for their Super Bowl drive.
Plus, any general manager worth his salt is going to be weary about giving up so much to get a two-strike offender in Gordon.
For any deal to make sense, Banner needs to receive a deep ball threat who can stretch the field and demand double coverage. That brand of receiver is hard to come by and not often given up in the NFL.
Securing a performer like that, never mind a draft pick as well, seems unrealistic when you look around the league.
Gordon's high risk/high reward status makes completing a transaction that benefits both the Browns and another party nearly impossible.
The prediction here is that Gordon will still be wearing an orange helmet come Tuesday night.
Andy McNamara is an international sports broadcaster and journalist.
Follow Andy on Twitter @AndyMc81