Browns deserve scrutiny for mishandling receiver position


While the NFL’s outdated, illogical, and unfair “War on Drugs” obsession with players smoking marijuana on their own time triggered the suspension of Browns receiver Josh Gordon, the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.

72 responses to “Browns deserve scrutiny for mishandling receiver position

  1. I may be in the minority here, but I like how they went about their draft. I mean, what has Sammy Watkins done so far beside get injured in each game he’s played in?

  2. “While the NFL’s outdated, illogical, and unfair “War on Drugs” obsession with players smoking marijuana on their own time…”

    Let’s not forget the NFLPA signed off on this policy too.

  3. How about mishandling all the other positions on this team. It’s called the factory of sadness for a reason..maybe the new regime will get things right this time but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  4. I am upset they didn’t draft a WR. Also, I can think of a number of high-end WR and Super Bowls: Jerry Rice (GOAT) and Michael Irvin both won multiple Super Bowls and you knew they were a major part of the game plan. Their were many others as well. Also, it is called a skill position for a reason, which means you need quality at the position!

  5. The Browns now have two first round picks for 2015. Watch the Alabama-Auburn game on TV on Nov 29th and you’ll see which of two fantastic WRs will be one of those picks. Geez, give Farmer and Pettine a break. They had a great draft this year and will doubtless have another one next year. Josh Gordon did this to himself, not to mention to his teammates and the Browns fans.

  6. “maybe that means the Browns will win the Super Bowl this year” ….

    how can they not, with Johnnie Football on the team?

  7. The franchise is in constant upheaval with a new coach/GM/QB almost every season. And their owner gets caught up in fraud scandals just to keep things interesting. WR is far from the only thing that has been mishandled around there. It’d be more of a story if they’d handled things well.

  8. While the NFL’s outdated, illogical, and unfair “War on Drugs” obsession with players smoking marijuana on their own time


    Yeah…that whole “breaking the law” thing is overrated, isnt it?

    Its sooo “unfair”.

    And yes, this is me rolling my eyes right now…

    It isnt outdated or illogical. On the Federal level, its still illegal. How many employers encourge their employees to go around breaking the law?

  9. The draft was fine. Filled CB and QB needs with impact players and got now have 2 firsts for next year. Ray Farmer is a smart guy who took care of this year and has an inside track for next season. The Browns will find a quality WR on the waiver wire and/or trade a DL for a WR 1 or 2.

  10. Outdated, illogical and unfair? Are you looking!? The players union agreed to it. The nfl (the employer) says not to use it or you’ll get in trouble. Gordon knew this and chose to break the rules anyway. It’s like that in every facet of life. break the rules; get in trouble. Theres nothing illogical outdated or unfair about having to follow the rules

  11. Passing on Watkins when they apparently already knew the Gordon suspension was coming is going to be right up there with any of the other dumb moves that have defined this franchise over the last 25 years. However, their QBs look pretty bad anyway, so what does it matter? It’stheFactoryofSadness.

  12. The bright side is that if they can’t find a way to win this year, then that could mean two very high draft picks next year in addition to Gordon coming back. If the NFL didn’t suspend Gordon, they could have won more games yet still come up short in making the playoffs only to not get as good of a draft pick as they can if this season is a meltdown instead.

    This extra hardship might help them get stronger for the next season when they have a lot more material for their tailor to stitch things up with.

  13. “No connection exists between having a high-end receiver and winning a Super Bowl.”


    –Jerry Rice

  14. “the NFL’s outdated, illogical, and unfair “War on Drugs” obsession”… virtually EVERY single other job in America is subject to the same standards. If you fail a drug test, you get fired. If you’re making millions of dollars to play a sport, I think giving up weed is a fair sacrifice.

  15. tndiver said they could think of “a number of high end receivers and Superbowls”, based on the way thats worded I’m a) not entirely sure what that means and b) it seems as though that number is two, so you basically made Farmer’s case. I’m not a Browns fan but Framer is right, go back over the last SEVERAL Superbowls and tell me which winners had a true, ELITE, top notch WR in his prime when they won. The fact of the matter is, while you need good players at that position, as you do at all positions, the elite WR is over hyped. How many Superbowls does Calvin Johnson have? Julio Jones? AJ Green? DeMaryius Thomas, Brandon Marshall…evn guys who were elite for a long time like Fitz and Andre Johnson…you know how many combined Super Bowl victories they have? Zero.

  16. You can certainly get by in this league without elite receivers. You just need a quarterback that plays at a high enough level to make anyone look good and a lights out defense.

    Unfortunately the Browns don’t have either. Their defense is solid, but I have a difficult time believing that they are going to be holding the opposition to under 10 points in every game this season. Their QBs are not Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers.

    Having a guy that is capable of stretching the field and drawing extra coverage doesn’t guarantee you wins, but it certainly takes the pressure off the rest of the offense.

  17. nowillrepeat says:
    Aug 29, 2014 11:55 AM

    Browns should have taken Bradin Cooks. He will be this draft’s best receiver.

    Supposedly the Browns tried unsuccessfully to trade up to take Cooks before NO but did not succeed. They then drafted Manziel.

  18. Mishandling what? Gordan is the first talented player the Browns have acquired since coming back into the league. There would have been riots in the streets of Cleveland had they traded Josh for anything less than Tom Brady.

  19. While the NFL’s outdated, illogical, and unfair “War on Drugs” obsession with players smoking marijuana on their own time……
    Come on. Marijuana is banned in 96% of the states (48/50) or 91% of the states the NFL plays in (20/22) – including the state that he works in.

    In addition, the players have collectively bargained that they will be tested for “Street drugs” once a year, unless they test positive, and are then tested more frequently. This collectively bargained test also set very low thresholds for testing positive.

    This is an idiot test. If you found out that Milk was a banned substance – then you would stop drinking milk as long was you are in the NFL. Players know they are going to be tested – so failing the test shows that they are stupid and/or they have a problem.

    If he has a problem there were opportunities to go into a program.

    I know for my current job, I had to undergo a drug test. I’m pretty sure my employer would not have been “understanding” if i tested positive for a substance that is illegal in the state that i work.

  20. “While the NFL’s outdated, illogical, and unfair “War on Drugs” obsession with players smoking marijuana on their own time…”

    You include the phrase “on their own time” as if it is none of the NFL’s business what the players do on their own time. Thats complete BS.

    Players beat their wives, drink and drive, take PHD’s and engage illegal gun activities as well- ALL of which are on their own time. The bottom line is in the NFL, it does matter what you do on your “own time” in regards to drugs and everything else for that matter. Thats what they signed up for.

  21. Over the course of 5 or 6 seasons I’m not so sure I don’t prefer Josh Gordon for 8 out of 16 games over “a second round pick and a player.”

    JG will be CHEAP for his career and has abundant talent. Of course it’d be great to have that without the off-field drama, but still.

    With the way they handled the draft they’re set up well for next year when they may/may not still need a QB: the position that is far more valuable than any one wideout. I would’ve liked a wideout in the second or third round, but I’m glad they passed on Watkins to get another first rounder in 2015.

  22. I couldn’t understand why they played him (and kept throwing him the ball) during the pre-season, when they had to know he was going to be suspended. Shouldn’t you be giving the reps to guys who can actually help you this year?

  23. The NFL, NBA and MLB have to get off the anti-drug band wagon. Recreational drugs are part of American life and they are here to stay. Do I like it personally, no. But in all fairness, the players are selected,’randomly.’ Well if you select randomly, you may miss a guy that is stoned or drunk or higher and catch the guy that had a few beers the night before.

    If you want to be fair and have meaning, randomly select a day and test everyone! Right down to the ball washers. That will provide you info you may not want to know but it will be a cross section of how rampant drugs are, how many drug users in all active players. Chances are you may have to open drug rehab facilities in every city that has a pro team. ‘Random selection’ is about as truthful as ‘close enough.’ Test them all and see where pro sports stand. Hockey, NFL,MLB, NBA all of them. The ‘total’ screen should never be made public. But done every year once, no warning. Never during the season.

    Now listen cause I’m saying this once. These sport participants are athletes but also entertainers. No one ever tested Madonna before a road trip or the Rolling Stones, News Commentators how far are we willing to go? How about authors, all the entertainment industry.

    If I were to judge, I would. Realizing that everybody is human, don’t test them Test all of them a week after their final game, especially after the Super Bowl. Examine the raw data overall, then by team, then by any other demographic parse desired.

    Athletes and entertainers are pushed to their very limits to entertain. So others can enjoy their favorite entertainers. When it comes to performance enhancement drugs, these people are adults, they also have managers and handlers to get them ready for the game or performance. If a drug enhancement is used and their are better performers, good. As a viewer and former athlete, let them take steroids, amphetamines, barbiturates, whatever. Better show = better entertainment. But years later after their stage has gone dark, the entertainers have no one to blame but themselves. They made their money done what they desired, it’s over, they get sick it’s on them.

  24. The Browns filled important needs with every one of their 2014 picks. And they signed a WR with tremendous upside in Andrew Hawkins. Trading Gordon would have been nice, but hindsight is 20/20. Drafting a WR would have been nice, but their were too many holes to fill. Ultimately, the moves they made were their best option at the time. I can’t fault Farmer for making them.

  25. So you’re saying they mishandled by not trading one of the best young talents away last year? He’s what, 22 years old? Sits out a year comes back at 23. Hopefully gets his act together and plays for 10-13 more years as a Brown. Even if he doesn’t and we only get the one good year last year out of him it’s probably a better deal than what we could have traded for. You don’t trade away 22 year old studs.

    Go Browns!

  26. Does anybody think that even with Gordon the Browns were a Super Bowl contender?

    Even with Calvin Johnson, they’re not.

    Hindsight may be 20/20 on whether they should have traded Gordon but we won’t know that for a year or two. Regardless, reading too much into the front office because they didn’t draft a receiver this year is a bit shortsighted.

  27. realityonetwo says: Aug 29, 2014 12:08 PM

    “No connection exists between having a high-end receiver and winning a Super Bowl.”


    –Jerry Rice
    Good point… Jerry Rice is laughing his butt off, and who else? Lynn Swann? Michael Irvin? Hines Ward? Art Monk? HoF receivers, but all those teams probably could have won without them. pdixon sees two, but I only see one receiver who shows a definite connection to championship rings. Funny thing to think about.

  28. Poor draft…failed to address most glaring need which is WR. The only saving grace is drafting a QB outside the top 10 and not overdrafting him.
    But overall, C-

  29. Things wrong in this world, people ok with pot use in the work place and getting butt hurt over words like Redskins.

  30. 2013 Ravens: Torrey Smith 1128 yards, 4 TD’s
    2012 Giants: Victor Cruz 1092 yards, 10 TD’s
    2011 Packers: Jordy Nelson 1263 yards, 15 TD’s
    2010 Saints: Marques Colston 1023 yards, 7 TD’s
    2009 Steelers: Santonio Holmes 1248 yards, 5 TD’s
    2009 Steelers: Hines Ward 1167 yards 6 TD’s

    How about the 2007 Colts with Reggie Waynes 1,500 yards and 10 td’s?

    You may not need an “elite” WR but a really really good one certainly seems helpful in winning titles.

  31. The Browns would have been idiots to not take that deal from Buffalo to trade down. By the looks of things they might have gotten the number 1 pick in next year’s draft to just move down a few spots in the top 10. They are trying to build a team to compete not just replace a superstar player at a nonpremium position.

  32. The mistake the Browns made wasn’t just passing on Watkins. It was not drafting a receiver in the 2nd or 3rd round either in an incredibly deep draft at the position, that is inexcusable.

  33. I’m a Jet fan not a brownies fan but I have to say one thing. I’m glad the browns didn’t select Watkins, I do not get the hype around this guy, he is the product of a spread offense in Clemson and I’m starting to think Watkins and Boyd’s flaws were hidden in this system. Sure, Sammy Watkins dominates practices but, when it’s game day he looks like Stephen Hill out there.

  34. People wanna bag on the Browns because it’s one of the easiest things to do. Farmer had a great draft. He also did a great job of bringing in quality veteran leadership while bolstering the teams overall depth. No problem w/what he’s been able to do considering he’s only been GM for 6 mos. let the season play out.


  35. Guarantee you if the players sign on for HGH testing the weed suspensions become lower. Hmm, wonder why that hasn’t happened yet…?

    As ridiculous as weed suspensions are, and they are, the players are not blameless in this and to a certain extent have made a rod for their our back.

  36. The Browns don’t have great WR’s. Why is this being blown up into a big issue? Why did they NEED to get one in round one? What difference will that make this year?

  37. The writer, and many of these reviewers, are very near-sighted.

    WR certainly remains a gaping hole and, like a vacuum, it sucks in the detractors, but I like where we stand. We filled key needs at CB, LG, RB and maybe QB and now Kirksey at LB is looking like a keeper as well.

    Not taking JFF at #4, and then trading down for a 1 and a 4 next year from Buffalo was a brilliant first-ever move of a first-time GM, as it offsets the risk of drafting the polarizing boom or bust JFF. We have lots of options in the first round next year. Could go WR+RT or maybe even WR+QB with the picks. Someone like Amari Cooper lined up with Gordon next year, with all of our young players a year older and starting to gel, and I like our direction.

    The offense needs another year, but the defense will be nasty this year.


  38. People saying they addressed their QB need in the draft haven’t been paying attention to the play of Johnny Manziel. That guy will only ever possibly get a Super Bowl ring if he’s a backup on a championship team one day, and it is NOT likely to be Cleveland.

  39. Can we see how their offense performs in real games before stating what they should have done? I love how Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans are the second coming without having done a thing in the league, and quite frankly I don’t see either of them as special. College and the NFL are completely different animals for the wide receiver position. Also, PFT, please stop considering Mary Kay as a Browns source, she gets all of her articles from other real reporters!! Heck, even I could do that.

  40. Meanwhile the Pats are rolling out Dobson, Thompkins, Amendola, and Edelman. Have they “mishandled” their WR position as well?

    Still waiting for the Lions to win a Superbowl with their stud receiver…..

  41. And all the criticism of the Browns “mishandling” of their WR position comes from people who have managed how many NFL clubs? ZERO!!!!

    Scrutiny…they’re already getting it from jackwads who need to fill space on their sites and create controversy to create hits.

    B/R has a great piece on the NFL’s assbackwards policies on drugs…and I’m NOT a B/R fan

    They hired a defensive coach and you’re shocked they chose a CB because you think they needed a WR? Get the eff over yourselves and watch the Browns this year…FoS will evolve into the Factory of Gladness

  42. “MAYBE the browns will win a super bowl this year” ….

    No…thats why they stuck to their draft plan and saw an opportunity to add an extra high round pick next year..building a team is an outlook, not a one year wonder…although the coaching staff seems that way…but lets all hope thats finished..

  43. How about firing a coach that was respected by his players after 1 season, or letting TJ Ward walk to sign an older more expensive safety for no reason, or the continued sentiment that they’re due some kind of success after sucking so bad for so long…

  44. ubepunkedagain says: Aug 29, 2014 1:07 PM

    I must have missed the article about how the Texans deserve scrutiny for how they mishandled the QB position? Maybe you can repost it for my viewing?
    Whatever the Browns mishandled, the media has clearly mishandled the story about how big the Texans screwed themselves this year. The Browns, regardless of their WR corps, have put themselves in a position for two top-10 picks next year. And I don’t want to be a pessimist, but the Texans may have hamstrung their franchise for years to come. Not a Cleveland fan or a Houston fan, I’m just not sure why the media isn’t talking about the Texans’ QB situation.

  45. Building a team is a multi-year process…especially when you look at the shape the Browns were in last year when Farmer took over. When you’re offered a very possible high first round pick, knowing you’re likely going to have another one, you take it…unless you’re one piece away from competing for a championship and that piece was Watkins. It wasn’t and they weren’t. In 3 years, if this team isn’t competing for an AFC North title, then chirp about Farmer all you want. The fact is the Browns had too many holes to fill to expect it to be fixed in one draft.

  46. One nanogram/ml is what we are talking Gordon’s case, 16 nanograms/ml.

    But once the same urine sample was tested again, Gordon’s urine sample labeled “B”, tested at a 13.6 level, 1.4 nanograms /ml BELOW THE LIMIT.

    Had Gordon’s B sample been labeled “A”, there would be no problem, but due to the luck of the draw and the fact that Roger Goodell enjoys screwing over the Browns, being 1.6 nanograms/ml below the limit is meaningless.

    But Roger Goodell completely ignored that fact and suspended Josh Gordon for a year…just to show everyone that he is a reasonable man.

    Had Josh Gordon simply knocked his girl friend out cold (with video evidence) the Browns pro bowl WR would only be missing 2 games instead of the whole season.

    Roger Goodell did his buddy Steve Bisciotti (Ravens owner) a favor so lets not pretend that Goodell is above such things or that his hands are tied. But you have to be “certain friends” of Goodell’s to catch a break…I just heard today that Jerry Jones and Adrian Peterson talked about AD playing for Jerry in the off season?? That is supposed to be against the NFL rules..but is there anyone that believes Roger Goodell will punish Jerry Jones?. Obviously, the Cleveland Browns are not fortunate to be one of Roger’s favorite teams.

    Got to love PFT…now trying to carry Goodell’s water, claiming the Browns should have just drafted Watkins. There was no way of knowing how Roger Goodell would rule in Gordon’s case with the B sample below the limit and the A sample above. Most reasonable people might believe Gordon would win his appeal, as PFT has pointed out on several occasions.

    Had Josh Gordon taken a urine test for the U.S. Military, his 16.0 ng/ml (A sample) test result would have been less than 1/3 of the U.S. Military’s limit for marijuana, a limit of 50 ng/ml.

    Had Josh Gordon played Major League Baseball, his 16.0 ng/ml test result would have been less than 1/3 of MLB’s limit for marijuana, a limit of 50 ng/ml.

    Had Josh Gordon submitted his NFL urine sample to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team, his 16.0 ng/ml would have been just over 10% of the World Anti-Doping Agency/IOC limit for marijuana, a limit of 150 ng/ml.

    Any intelligent, reasonable person with a lick of common sense might take these facts into consideration when judging Josh Gordon’s case, but not Roger Goodell and his hand picked arbiter. BTW, did I mention that Josh Gordon had passed 70 NFL urine tests before his 13.6 and 16.0 test results, not that Goodell gives a damn.

    The Browns will overcome Roger Goodell’s vendetta

  47. Too funny, they will be picking their 21st starting QB in the first round of next years draft.

  48. If you paid attention to the Browns moves since the Richardson trade you would realize it would have been absolutely idiotic to trade Gordon last season. Gordon didn’t go into pro bowl form until AFTER the trade deadline so the Browns would have gotten nothing for him and the team who would have taken him would have gotten a steal.

    Fast forward to this offseason and every down field throwing QB the Browns had was cut and replaced by mobile dink and dunk check down artists (Hoyer and Manziel). On top of that the Browns threw A LOT of money into the running back position. Sounds like moves from a GM that might have known his downfield threat receiver might not be available.

    Fact is Gordon and Travis Benjamin are the ONLY receivers from 2013 that the new regime kept so the idea of “The Browns don’t have receivers” are based on what? The entire starting lineup other than Gordon was playing for another team last year so what are they?

    As for the draft just because you pick a player in the draft doesn’t mean he’s going to automatically be talented. Sammy Watkins has had more injuries in the pre season than the Bills have had playoff wins in the last decade. Tell me how Cleveland getting future draft picks for a injury prone receiver is a bad thing again? The rest in the draft were no better than anyone you’d get in free agency which is the route Cleveland went with in adding Nate Burelson, Miles Austin and Hawkins.

    I’ll give you credit though. If the Browns GM was playing fantasy football and now actually running a real NFL team you’d be 100% correct.

  49. Unquestionably, the joke of the NFL.

    Soon to have their 10th double digit loss season in the last 11 years.

    The “new” Browns are a train wreck.

    The “old” Browns were so bad that had to move.


  50. Lol. I love all the thumbs down on any poster posting negative comments about the Browns.

    I agree 100 percent with florio. Farmer and Pettine totally botched this draft.

    Gilbert sucks, Johnny TBD, Bittonio sucks, terrance west sucks, Kirksey has been impressive.

    Great draft lol.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.