While the NFL’s outdated, illogical, and unfair “War on Drugs” obsession with players smoking marijuana on their own time triggered the suspension of Browns receiver Josh Gordon, the Browns nevertheless mishandled the situation, especially since they’ve known for a long time that they’ve been facing the potential absence of Gordon.
As Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer mentioned on Thursday’s PFT Live, the Browns could have traded Gordon last year for a second-round pick and a player. But former coach Rob Chudzinski was willing to continue to keep a player who was a mere 15 ng/ml of marijuana metabolites in one of up to 10 tests per month away from a one-year suspension.
Then, aware of the looming suspension in May, the Browns opted not to use the fourth overall pick on receiver Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans. The Browns then used none of their draft picks on a receiver.
And so they’ll move forward with Andrew Hawkins, Miles Austin, and Nate Burleson, barring the acquisition of a veteran who has been cut or who is available via trade. But even if the Browns bring someone like Santana Moss to Cleveland from Washington, given his familiarity with the offense, it’s always difficult for a receiver to make an impact without the benefit of offseason, training camp, and/or preseason reps with his new team.
In one fell swoop, the Browns went from having one of the best receivers in the NFL to having a revolving door of players who are past their prime or who may never have one. It puts extra pressure on the running game, on the quarterback, on tight end Jordan Cameron, and on a defense that now needs to serve up great field position and/or to score points via turnovers, if the Browns will have any hope in the AFC North.
General Manager Ray Farmer has defended the decision not to take Watkins or Evans by arguing that no connection exists between having a high-end receiver and winning a Super Bowl. Which actually makes even more glaring the decision to not trade Gordon when they could have gotten value for him.
Now, the Browns definitely don’t have a high-end receiver. If Farmer’s theory is correct, maybe that means the Browns will win the Super Bowl this year.