Banner, Lombardi wanted to trade Josh Gordon


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.

40 responses to “Banner, Lombardi wanted to trade Josh Gordon

  1. I think they could have got somebody to really overpay for him, perhaps the Lions were one of the teams, or Buffalo considering how much they gave up for Sammy Watkins. When somebody is willing to overpay, then you need to find that team and close the deal. The Browns missed their opportunity and now have an uphill battle to get back to having more flexibility with their Gordon options.

  2. “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.”

    Um, no. I assure you the move wouldn’t be drawing “praise” now. Gordon failed a test for marijuana. Big deal. I’d rather see him sit out for part of the year or even the whole year, knowing he’d be back with the team eventually, then to lose him altogether and watch him go light it up on another team. OK, “light it up” is an odd choice of words here, but you know what I mean.

    Banner and Lombardi might as well have been Holmgren and his cronies- forever thinking they were geniuses for getting rid of one good player to bring in 4 or 5 bad ones., etc.

  3. If Gordon never plays again, they’d be getting praise. But if he comes back and is anything like he was in 2013 they’ll look even dumber for wanting to do it.

  4. I’d rather have Gordon in 2015 and beyond than a #2 even if he does miss the whole season. Besides, league is going to change rules re pot so it will be like NBA–stay out of trouble and we won’t worry bout it.

  5. “Um, no. I assure you the move wouldn’t be drawing “praise” now. Gordon failed a test for marijuana. Big deal.”
    And that, folks, is why it’s called the Factory of Sadness.

  6. Banner thought he could select players solely based on analytics and not on true scouting. He ignored his scouts reports when he drafted Mingo and that CB in the 3rd round. He was the poison that had coaches saying “no thanks” to the Browns in January. He was the reason Chip Kelly said “no thanks” last year. He couldn’t have been fired fast enough as far as I’m concerned.

  7. So…they didn’t trade him because Chud seemed to have the support system in place, yet they were the ones who fired Chud…2 plus 2 equals….five?

  8. Getting suspended for an entire season for repeated marijuana use is pretty harsh. Perhaps when it comes to suspensions for marijuana use they could lighten the penalties up a bit.

    Driving under the influence of alcohol or marijuana should be penalized severely. But just smoking could be a one or two game suspension upon failure. Take a paycheck or two, not an entire season or even career.

  9. Banner and Lombardi were a bad joke, and neither should have ever been placed in charge of personnel. They got lucky with Richardson, finding someone foolish enough to part with a top pick, but that has little to do with any level of skill on their part. The same holds true with dumping Chud, then finding a suitable replacement in Pettine.
    The fact is that Cleveland was successful getting decent free agent signings this year (i.e. Dansby and Whitner) because Banner was gone. Nobody good players wanted to deal with Banner. Lombardi wanted Belichick’s boys and the 49ers coach.
    The best thing to happen for the Browns was what happened…Haslem sent those two guys packing. The immediate result was that Cleveland now has a smart and capable GM in Ray Farmer, who happened to kick ass in this year’s draft. And don’t think that Jimmy Haslem didn’t have everything to do with keeping Ray Farmer away from Miami.
    Farmer was ready to leave BECAUSE OF Banner and Lombardi…

  10. Failed a test for weed. Big deal.
    The big deal is that he isn’t smart enough to comply with the conditions of employment in the NFL. A job that pays him hundreds of times more money than he could possibly get elsewhere.
    The issue isn’t whether or not weed is legal here or there, the issue is that he’s clearly not allowed to partake under the current rules.
    He’s an idiot.

  11. It’s ashame that josh gordon is throwing away all that god given talent over marijuana now with the suspension looming over his head. He probably would of got a nice contract extension if he would of stayed away from the drugs and have himself another productive year like last years.

  12. A great example of Joe Banner’s ability to judge player character lead him to trade for Devone Bess…a veteran who was supposed to be a role model for the Browns young receivers.

    Only later did the Browns learn that Bess had exhibited some strange and questionable character while with the Dolphins, who had to be tickled to see Joe Banner and the Browns come knocking.

    Not only was Banner a poor judge of character, he failed to do his homework before pursuing Devone Bess.

    Joe Banner ran the Browns like a bean counter…or put in Banner speak, Banner ran the Browns like a “non traditional football guy”.

    Josh Gordon went on the lead the NFL in receiving and was named to the Pro Bowl.

    I view Gordon much like Chris Carter when he first entered the NFL…someone with loads of talent who has not gotten his head screwed on right, YET !

    But now, few know about Chris Carter and his early years and few question Carter’s character.

    I hope Gordon will learn from his mistakes…he too is a great talent but is struggling with his off the field issues.

  13. Are we forgetting the fact Gordon is and was a complete moron? It’s as simple as that. Don’t give me the legalize it excuse, it’s not legal with his employer… A complete fool , completely…

  14. Lombardi gets an awful lot of heat. I’ve always thought he was a very good football mind. Just my opinion, which counts for absolutely nothing.

  15. Gordon made a mistake and if i were the NFL i would say I’ll suspend you three or four games and if it happens again your kicked out forever so go ahead annd smoke pot again and see what happens!

  16. Why again does the NFL test for pot? Does it enhance a players abilities? Certainly not. Pro baseball? Provides treatment, not bans. The NBA? moved the detection threshold to a point that no one ever tests positive. The NHL tests for sure, nope. A dozen states says its legal as medicine. Two states say it’s as legal as beer. The majority of Americans think it should not be illegal.

    I’m not personally an advocate for pot smoking, but the kid was one of the top receivers in the NFL The chronic had zero to do with it. Get rid of the stupid policy and move on.

  17. Reading some of these responses is hilarious if it’s against the rules to smoke weed you DON’T smoke weed! And it’s not his first violation. It would be interesting to see some of these people who post this stuff to go to a job interview and get turned down for a job with the potential to make millions of dollars knowing they have to pass a drug test and when they find out they failed the drug test they look at the CEO and say what’s the big deal it’s just weed it will be legal soon!

  18. Florio – you seem to think that Banner and Lombardi would have used those draft picks wisely. Look at their track record in draft choices, free agent signings and courting of potential coaches – it all adds up to close to nothing. If accumulating picks and cap space was what they were good for, then their mission was accomplished and it was time to dump them before they wasted those picks and the money.

  19. How long will Gordon’s next suspension be if(when) he fails another drug test? Is he going to change his environment (ditch his pot loving friends) in order to stay clean? As of now, he clearly favors smoking herb over playing football.

  20. Nobody was going to “overpay” for a head case who can’t stay on the football field.

    Not the Lions. Not the Bills. Nobody.

    Why would Buffalo “overpay” for Josh Gordon, instead of someone else?

    I’m surprised they even got offered a 2nd round pick PLUS more players. He might be good, even great, but he is trouble…which is why Buffalo could only get a 3rd or 4th round pick for Marshawn Lynch, who is, always has been and always will be, better than Trent Richardson, who garnered a 1st round pick…because he didn’t run a chick over with his car, and leave the scene…then get caught with guns/weed a short time later.

    Josh Gordon is not worth the trouble…not right now anyways. Too much risk.

  21. They should have looking at it now, solid picks and/or a replacement to a dude who will be out of the league in another year unless he figures it out. Perhaps he will end up like Chris Heron and be a motivational speaker.

  22. Bummer and Dumbturdi go together like turds and diarrhea! And both are no floating down the NFL river of no return!

  23. The Dude smoked Pot? So what!?!? The fact that it’s Illegal to begin with is a joke!! I’d much rather have these guys smoking Pot! Then drinking and driving and killing peeps!! Times are a changin!!! Time the NFL and these none Legal Pot States starts to change with it!!!

  24. There are two things Florio is not taking into account in this story. A. Josh Gordon has not been suspended yet and B. The reason for the suspension and length he would be facing has never actually been confirmed by anyone with some saying he didn’t test positive for marijuana at all and that he actually MISSED a random test causing an automatic drug test failure on his record.

    These are two VERY important factors. Fact is the Cleveland Browns have the right idea with dealing with the Gordon situation as unlike the media who are just guessing and assuming the worst possible situation the team actually knows exactly whats going on. Remember, this time last year Jimmy Haslam was all but saying that Josh Gordon was on a short leash. His tune has completely changed now which says that they aren’t really worried about it anymore.

    It’s also ridiculously short sighted to think that Browns fans and the media would ever think giving up the type of production that Gordon was capable of would be a good idea “character issue’s” or not. As someone mentioned the “Chris Carter” effect where he gets over his issues and has a Hall of Fame career and that’s only the best case scenario. There’s a lesser scenario that they trade him last year to a team like the Broncos or 49ers who use him as that missing piece that kept them from winning the 1 or 2 games needed to win it all. Even if he gets suspended for the 2014 season from that team the Cleveland Browns still would have been viewed as giving up a super bowl winning pro bowl receiver on a team that probably couldn’t afford to do that.

    The main reason it doesn’t hurt Cleveland to have a “wait and see” approach with Gordon is the fact that the Browns aren’t as baron in the pass catching department as people think. Am I the only one who didn’t forget that Jordan Cameron was an all star as well on that team. If they run an offense like the Patriots then the Ben Tate, Jordan Cameron and Andrew Hawkins trio will be extremely dangerous not to mention whichever mobile QB between Hoyer and Manziel wins the starting job.

    As many have mentioned Ray Farmer on paper has built a solid TEAM that shouldn’t have to be dependent on any one guy.

  25. buy low, and the Browns (Tom Heckert) did, taking Gordon 2nd rd. of supplemental draft. And sell high, which unfortunately for Browns Banner did NOT do, Gordon did (stops to toke.)

  26. Difference between Gordon and Carter. Gordon has been violation of the NFL drug policy four times, one year suspension, plus I believe going forward he is going to be tested up to 16 times per month for the rest of his career. Carter woke up after Ryan cut him, he had already gotten clean before he was cut.

    So you really think Gordon will now wise up?

    Just got stopped was hanging out with the same people cops found weed in the car, the guy doesn’t get, a waste of a unique talent.

  27. I’m glad Banner is gone, but he did some decent things for which he’s not getting credit. Trading Richardson was reviled at the time but the right move, turning into Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel. He then cleared cap space, which turned into Dansby, Whitner, Ben Tate and a new deal for Joe Haden. As of today, the Browns still have the 2nd most cap space in the NFL.

    He also had the insight to identify the potential of Ray Farmer, then stole Farmer from the Kansas City front office and convinced him to come to Cleveland instead of taking Miami’s GM job. I believe Farmer is the guy that will finally bring winning football back to Cleveland.

    None of this would have happened without Joe Banner, love him or hate him. He made his mistakes, but he did some good things as well.

  28. Nobody in Cleveland misses Banner and Lombardi.

    We’ll evaluation the new guys after the 2014 season.

  29. He’s young enough -he should retire, wait 5 years and unretire. It’ll be legal by then.

  30. mike florio = peter king junior.

    lombardi and banner SUCK. how much are you getting paid to try and make them look good? not enough (or too much)

  31. Cleveland has nothing to lose with this guy. They are paying him peanuts, and if he’s suspended for a year, his rookie deal is extended another year.

  32. Gordon played superbly last season. If he manages to avoid a full year suspension, he would be even better with Manziel throwing the ball to him.

  33. Gordon could be a future nfl hall of famer. He is incredibly young. I will gamble that he gets his act together rather than take a 2nd rounder and “some players” any day. You just don’t get a talent like that, that comes along very often. A 2nd rounder is a gamble too don’t forget, and I doubt the reward is nearly as high.

  34. If Gordon was traded, the Browns would have never seen how good Hoyer actually can be because he would have had nobody to throw it to. These 2 knuckleheads should never receive praise for anything. Period. Canning them was the right call.

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