Why else would teams seek to trade for a player with his past and who is one more failed drug test away from another lengthy absence?
The Browns are not interested in trading Gordon. ESPN's Adam Schefter made that clear in his report that several teams have called about acquiring Gordon. But to call about a player with Gordon's baggage says something about the way Gordon is viewed around the league and how he has looked. Teams are not permitted to watch other teams practice, but word about players does filter out. And it must be positive about Gordon if there have been calls.
Gordon has been on the field for just a short time, but Sunday he snagged a ball that had tipped off a defender as he ran down the sideline. It appeared effortless -- and was eyebrow-raising.
That being said, Gordon showed signs of being his old self for one game in 2014, then seemed to regress. The test for Gordon's return comes in games, and over the long run.
The Browns may not be interested in trading Gordon, but they have to listen.
Gordon has potential every season to play the way he did in 2013, when he led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards.
But he's also been completely undependable since that season.
Gordon was suspended the first 10 games of 2014, then played one good game in his return against Atlanta. After that, half-hearted barely begins to describe how he played. He finished with a team suspension when he didn't show for the final walk-through.
He spent 2015 on the commissioner's suspended list. When he initially applied for reinstatement in April, he was denied reinstatement after reports he failed a drug test because of diluted samples that also tested positive for marijuana. The level of marijuana did not meet the NFL's threshold for suspension, but the diluted samples are considered the same as a positive test. Even when he was reinstated, he was suspended the first four games of the season.
The talent is there and he believes he can be his old self -- and perhaps better. But the key question for the Browns is simple: Can they truly depend on him?
Which is why they have to listen to trade queries. If someone offers a high pick, the team owes it to itself to run the numbers and analytics and see where the arrows point.
Gordon is young, still just 25. But the Browns are building a team through the draft, with young players they select and grow. They had 14 picks in this draft. They will have extra high picks in the next two drafts. There is wisdom in their approach, and several of the players they selected have shown some promise in practice and games. Adding another high pick in the mix for Gordon, on paper, seems to fit the approach.
This is not to say the Browns should trade Gordon. They just have to consider every possibility.
Maybe this group has the magic approach to change his life so that he's dependable. But other regimes have thought the same thing and watched Gordon be suspended. Joe Banner said he had a trade lined up for Gordon in 2013, but didn't make it because he knew the coaches would want to tear out his fingernails. They believed they could keep Gordon on the field.
The coaches and support structure changed, and Gordon was suspended for 27 of the next 32 games.
Gordon has returned with a new support structure, one he has raved about. It could be the one to make it work for longer than a portion of a season. But nobody knows.
So what do the Browns do if a team offers a second-round pick for Gordon that could turn into a first-round choice based on performance?
Would the Browns turn it down as they attempt to build through the draft?
Could they turn it down?