Josh Gordon Signs New Contract with Browns Ahead of 2018 NFL Draft

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2018

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 30:  Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns carries the ball against the Buffalo Bills on November 30, 2014 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.  Buffalo defeats Cleveland 26-10. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns signed wide receiver Josh Gordon as an exclusive-rights free agent Monday. 

After not appearing in an NFL game for two years due to suspension, Gordon returned to play in five games for the 0-16 Browns in 2017.

Gordon made 18 grabs for 335 yards and one touchdown in his first action since 2014.

The 27-year-old was among the NFL's top receivers during his first three seasons, but multiple drug- and alcohol-related suspensions kept him off the field for over two years.

His time out of the game meant he was set to enter the 2018 offseason as an exclusive-rights free agent before becoming a restricted free agent in 2019.

After being suspended for the entire 2015 campaign, Gordon served a four-game ban to begin 2016, but he opted to enter a rehab facility shortly before being reinstated.

According to ESPN.com's Pat McManamon, Gordon released the following statement regarding his decision:

"After careful thought and deep consideration I've decided that I need to step away from pursuing my return to the Browns and my football career to enter an in-patient rehabilitation facility. This is the right decision for me and one that I hope will enable me to gain full control of my life and continue on a path to reach my full potential as a person. I appreciate the support of the NFL, NFLPA, the Browns, my teammates, my agent and the community through this extremely challenging process."

With Gordon out of the picture in favor of getting himself some help, Browns head coach Hue Jackson said this about his future with the team, per Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com:

In addition to his time missed from 2015 through 2017, Gordon was suspended two games in 2013 and 11 contests in 2014.

Despite missing a pair of games in 2013, the former Baylor standout turned in a dominant season that saw him make 87 catches for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns en route to being named a first-team All-Pro.

He has struggled to return to that level ever since, however, due to his failure to comply with the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

With John Dorsey replacing Sashi Brown in the general manager role, the Browns are under new leadership, and that may have worked to Gordon's advantage.

The Browns have worked to improve their roster this offseason, trading for quarterback Tyrod Taylor and wide receiver Jarvis Landry. They're widely expected to take another quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in this month's draft, so having a potentially elite receiver like Gordon to bring him along could be a huge boost. 

The team also signed running back Carlos Hyde. Provided Gordon stays on the field and the acquisitions perform as expected, this could be the best Browns offense in recent memory. 

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