Editor's note: Tony Grossi covers the Cleveland Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR.
Takeaways from Day 3 at NFL owners meetings …
1. Flash Gordon: The first sign that the Browns might welcome back serial suspended receiver Josh Gordon yet again – if he is ever reinstated by the NFL – came from Sashi Brown, executive vice president of football operations. Speaking to Northeast Ohio reporters in a courtyard inside the Arizona Biltmore, Brown was asked if the free agency defection of Terrelle Pryor has changed the Browns’ view of Gordon. “No,” Brown said. “Listen, assuming he would play at the level we started to see glimpses of last preseason and certainly in the league before, [Gordon] would be a talent I think no team in the NFL would turn down if he got back in. Our decision with Josh is just understanding where he is in this process and being able to have him. We’re not in position at wide receiver to turn down a guy like Josh if we feel he’s settled himself. Josh is going to have an opportunity to reapply to the NFL and at that time we’ll make a decision when we know what’s going on.”
2. More Gordon: Gordon last played for the Browns in Game 15 of the 2014 season. He was suspended for 30 of his last 35 games, was conditionally reinstated by the NFL for the 2016 training camp, and then checked himself into a rehab center the day before being cleared to practice for the regular season on Oct. 9. Gordon recently reapplied for another reinstatement by the NFL – unbeknownst to the Browns, according to owner Jimmy Haslam – and has recently posted images of himself showing the effects of a new training program. When Gordon missed his opportunity last year to rejoin the team, coach Hue Jackson said,"What's best for our football team is that we move forward and move on. He's not going to be with us and we wish him well, but we're moving forward. We're going to move on.'' But that was then and this is now. Brown said, “There’s some understanding and compassion and empathy for Josh, or sympathy, but at the same time we do have to focus on the guys on the roster. I think that was the nature of Hue’s comments.” Keep in mind two things: 1. The Browns have no insight on the status of Gordon’s reinstatement, and 2. If they ever have a chance to decide his roster fate, it will be Brown to make that call. “We’re rooting for Josh to get himself to a place where he can rejoin the league, and in the meantime kind of straighten out any other things in his life that might be independent of that, or anything else,” Brown said. “We’ll take it step by step. We really have very little insight into what the league provides. Once we get some indication of what’s going to happen, then we’ll make that decision.”
3. Sorry, Johnny: Don’t expect Johnny Manziel to be joining the New Orleans Saints anytime soon. Yes, Manziel had breakfast with Saints coach Sean Payton in Houston during Super Bowl week. But Payton on Wednesday shot down any suggestion that an invitation to Saints camp was forthcoming. Payton said, “There’s a handful of things he’d have to do [to earn an invite], and yet, I think the part of the report that insinuated that this was moving in that direction, I’m just going to say it was false. Now I’m sitting here answering 15 questions over a reporter’s report. Met with him, had a good breakfast. That was that.”
4. Clip and save: The Browns’ starting center job now belongs to former Packers lineman J.C. Tretter – if he can stay healthy. Tretter has missed 30 games in four seasons because of injuries, one of which occurred in drillwork in an OTA practice when a teammate fell on his leg. Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy took some of the blame for Tretter’s injury history. “I think J.C. probably suffered from playing multiple positions,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “He played tackle, guard … we moved him around. His weight was always up and down because we didn’t really know exactly where he would play. We used him as third tight end at times. He always kept his weight down to move. Now that he’s an inside player, he’ll be as big as he needs to be. I think it’ll really help him to know exactly the position he’s going to play. Trust me, you’ve got an excellent center.” McCarthy then quipped, “Well coached, well trained.”