Josh Gordon to Be Exclusive-Rights Free Agent After Questions About Status

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2018

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon catches a touchdown pass in the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, in Cleveland. Green Bay won 27-21 in overtime. (AP Photo/David Richard)
David Richard/Associated Press

Josh Gordon won't be a restricted free agent after all. 

Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported Wednesday that Gordon will be an exclusive-rights free agent rather than a restricted free agent this spring after questions cropped up regarding his lack of qualified NFL service time. 

To become a restricted free agent, Gordon needs to have four years of accrued NFL service under his belt.

Last season, the 26-year-old appeared in five games for the Browns after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reinstated him. According to the league's collective bargaining agreement, players must be on full-pay status for six regular-season games to gain a year of service time. 

Now that he's been deemed an exclusive-rights free agent, the "Browns will be able to offer him the second-year minimum for a player with two years of service, and his choice will be to sign it or not play," per Florio

Had the league decided Gordon was a restricted free agent, the Browns would have had to determine whether they wanted to tender him with a draft pick of their choosing.

A second-round supplemental draft pick in 2012, Gordon has caught 179 passes for 3,089 yards and 15 touchdowns in 40 career games. 

Last season, Gordon registered 18 receptions for 335 yards and a score after sitting out the entirety of the 2015 and 2016 campaigns for violating the terms of the NFL's substance-abuse policy. 

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