Why would another team want to trade for a receiver who is entering his fourth NFL season, will miss the first four games of it, and potentially will be hitting the open market next year? Because he won’t be hitting the open market.
Browns receiver Josh Gordon will be a restricted free agent in 2017, according to multiple league sources.
Gordon arrived in round two of the 2012 supplemental draft, and he obtained accrued seasons toward free agency in 2012 and 2013. In 2014, however, a 10-game league-imposed suspension coupled with a one-game suspension imposed by the team kept him from participating in six games — and from in turn obtaining a year of credit toward free agency.
Per the sources, the grievance filed by Gordon challenging the suspension was eventually dropped, which means that 2016 will be his third accrued year for free agency purposes. His four-year contract will expire, but he won’t be eligible for unrestricted free agency.
So whoever holds his rights after the season will be able to keep him in place another year under one of the various RFA tenders. Which would make him a little more valuable as a potential trade target.