Ray Farmer expects Josh Gordon's representatives to challenge the receiver’s suspension so that he gets an accrued NFL season in 2014.
Gordon was suspended by the team for the finale in Baltimore after he missed the team’s Saturday walk-through. That meant Gordon was active for only five games this season, not six.
The difference is crucial. If Gordon is credited with the sixth game he earns an accrued season and can be a free agent after the 2015 season. If his suspension takes away the final game toward accrued status, he would be under contract to the Browns through 2016.
“I'm sure they will probably contest it,” Farmer said. “From our perspective it is what it is and we’ll deal with that through the right channels.”
If challenged, that issue will be decided after a grievance, with Gordon's side saying the suspension was purposeful to keep him from entering free agency after the 2015 season. The Browns would say that Gordon had been suspended after several rules violations that were more serious than those of other players.
That will be decided in time.
The Browns, though, have bigger questions to answer about Gordon -- like whether he should stay on the team.
Coach Mike Pettine said that Gordon had multiple violations of team rules that led to the suspension. Add to that the reality that Gordon was suspended 12 games (two games in 2013, and 10 games in 2014) by the league for a violation of the drug policy and there are serious questions about Gordon’s problems outweighing his production.
“I think everybody recognizes the talent that’s there,” Pettine said, “but this isn’t an individual sport. You have to be accountable to your coaching staff. You have to be accountable to your teammates, more importantly. That’s the thing that we have to get right with Josh. It’s not the ability, but at some point you get tired of using the word 'potential.' This offseason for him puts him squarely in a crossroads with us.”
“One of the things that I was told when I was a young player in this league is that your best ability may be your availability,” Farmer said.
The GM also downplayed the importance of receivers, saying he may be stubborn in believing a player who touches the ball 10 times a game might not be as valuable as other positions that are involved in every play. He added his personal belief is to do all he can to help every player.
“When they demonstrate that they’re either unsavable or we can’t help them anymore, or they don’t want the help, then we’ll move on,” Farmer said. “It’s different for every single guy.”
Farmer and Pettine said any decisions on the roster would come after the team had a chance to get away from a tumultuous end to the season.
Farmer was asked if he is still fighting on Gordon’s behalf.
“Again,” he said, “I will tell you that I’m not one to talk publicly about my interactions with the players and I’ve had conversations with Josh, recent and past. When the final determination is made, Josh will be the first to know and then everybody else will find out after that.”