Right now, an hour before the Browns play at Kansas City and the last weekend of games before the NFL’s annual trade deadline begins, I don’t think the Browns will trade Josh Gordon.
I don’t know. No one knows.
The rumor mill is churning. We don’t know who’s keeping it going, but deadlines spur both action and speculation. And just about anybody in any front office leaguewide — with a variety of different motivations — can plant and/or feed a new rumor at just about anytime.
This is the Twitter world. This, too, is business in the NFL.
In Gordon, the Browns have a talented player with plenty of upside on the field. Off the field, he’s essentially down to his last strike. The Browns are building for the future and have to look two years ahead, when Gordon — if he’s clean and producing — will command big money. Or, maybe it will go the other way, which is why the thought of getting anything for him now fits with a team that’s going to need new players at every offensive skill position (except probably tight end) next year.
One thing the Browns won’t do under Joe Banner is blink. They’ll explore every option and every scenario, but Banner’s willingness to do these kinds of deals doesn’t mean he’s going to do one (or two) just to do it.
The most complicated issue for both the Browns and interested teams is that Gordon’s potential greatly outweighs his production thus far. In addition to that lingering last strike in the substance abuse program, will he do all the necessary work to reach his ceiling? Will whatever team employs him get maximum effort all the time? Based both on how he got here and what he’s done in 15 months in the NFL, those are fair questions.
The Gordon who played in Minnesota in his first game back looked like a certain tall, dangerous and sometimes-troubled receiver who came to Minnesota 15 years ago. The Gordon who played last week in Green Bay could get a general manager fired for trading for him.
No team is giving a first-rounder for Gordon. Maybe some team will give a second. Not likely, but maybe. The 49ers are going to have an extra second-rounder. Those are the picks the Patriots covet. Each team probably values Gordon differently.
Do the Browns really want to trade Gordon for a third-rounder — and likely a late third considering a contender would be making the trade? Or two fourth-rounders? Or, say, a conditional third and a low-level player? That’s not value.
The Browns will get value or they’ll move on.
Today’s games can change outlooks and needs, and one phone call between now and Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline could change the Browns line of thinking. I wouldn’t count on the Browns moving Gordon.
At least not until March.