It’s known that Browns receiver Josh Gordon won’t play in Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Ravens. It isn’t known whether Gordon will simply accept the suspension.
Per a league source, Gordon will explore all options — including the possibility of an appeal through the NFL Players Association. According to the source, it’s not yet known whether Gordon’s suspension applies with or without pay. If unpaid, it’s far more likely that Gordon will appeal.
The suspension, if unpaid, limits Gordon to five regular-season games in 2014. Some league insiders believe that prevents him from adding an accrued season toward free agency; the plain language of Article 8 of the 2011 labor deal seems to suggest that Gordon will get a year of credit toward free agency, since Article 8 says nothing about losing a year of credit due to substance-abuse suspensions or team-imposed suspensions.
The question becomes whether Gordon will receive credit for the third year of his four-year contract by playing in only five games. The Joey Galloway decision suggests that credit will be applied, despite the lingering language of paragraph 16 of the standard player contract, which suggests that any failure or refusal to perform a player’s duties results in a one-year extension of the deal.
None of it matters unless the Browns decide to suspend Gordon without pay and then take the position that he remains under contract through 2016. If that happens, there apparently will be two separate squabbles to resolve between player and team.