Former Browns CEO Joe Banner and former Browns G.M. Mike Lombardi received plenty of criticism during their short time with the team. They wanted to make another move that would have generated more criticism in the short term, but for which they’d both be drawing praise now.
Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes in an article sharing the results of an extended interview with Banner that Banner and Lombardi wanted to trade receiver Josh Gordon.
As Cabot explains it, some in the organization (including former head coach Rob Chudzinski) believed the Browns had a sufficient support system to keep Gordon from further violations of the substance-abuse policy. Currently, Gordon hopes to fend off a one-year suspension via the appeal process.
As a practical matter, Gordon likely wasn’t traded in part because of the short-term reaction to the decision to trade 2012 first-round running back Trent Richardson, a decision vindicated by Richardson’s performance in Indy, and by the fact that the extra first-round draft pick became, following a four-spot trade up, quarterback Johnny Manziel. The passage of time (and urine) would have eventually vindicated the trade of Gordon, even though the move would not have been applauded by fans if it had been made.
Per Cabot, the best offer for Gordon was a second-round pick and players. Any, some, or all of that compensation would have been more productive that what the Browns may get from Gordon in 2014 and beyond — quite possibly, nothing.
Nothing may be what Banner does in the NFL. Abruptly and unceremoniously fired with multiple years left on his contract, he’ll be paid to do nothing, at least for now. In future years, if a franchise rich in draft picks and cap space thrive under a G.M. and coach brought to the Browns by Banner, maybe someone with another team will look past the controversies and realize that Banner and Lombardi had a lot to do with the winner that the Browns may become.
As to Gordon, Banner and Lombardi could have done even more, if they hadn’t been overruled.