The offers weren’t good enough, and receiver Josh Gordon has been too good.
So he’s still a member of the Browns.
The NFL trade deadline passed at 4 p.m. Tuesday with no movement from the Browns, and little across the league. Cleveland had been the subject of several rumors involving a variety of players, the loudest about Gordon.
The Browns received a number of calls about their No. 1 wideout and seriously considered a few, but decided to hang onto him. It’s difficult to replace someone with his talent and potential.
Gordon, 22, is in the midst of a breakout year, despite opening the season on a two-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He has 32 catches for 582 yards (18.2 average) and three touchdowns in six games.
Gordon’s 97 yards per game rank second in the NFL, and his three 100-yard games are the most by a Browns receiver since Braylon Edwards’ three in 2008.
Gordon has at least 71 yards in every game except the loss in Green Bay, in which he caught two passes for 21 yards. He responded with five catches for 132 yards and a touchdown Sunday in the 23-17 loss to Kansas City.
He admitted to being affected by the persistent rumors and said again Sunday he was eager for the deadline to pass.
“When it’s over, it’s over,” Gordon said. “However it goes it’s beyond me, it’s above me. I will be excited either way. Hopefully get some new questions.
“I do want to stay in Cleveland. Cleveland is my first home, the team I got drafted to. It’s a great place to be. I love the fans in Cleveland and everything about it. But business is business.”
All eight of his career touchdowns have gone for at least 20 yards, and his 16.9-yard average per catch since 2012 is fourth in the NFL.
Gordon’s off-the-field troubles were the reason the Browns even considered dealing him.
He failed multiple tests for marijuana in college, and in the offseason drew the two-game suspension, which he blamed on prescription cough medicine containing codeine. Another violation of the NFL’s policy would reportedly result in at least a one-year suspension.
Gordon has been playing under a cloud of uncertainty since he returned in Week 3. The morning of the game against Minnesota reports surfaced that the Browns were trying to get rid of him.
“I knew I just had to go out there and play regardless,” said Gordon, who had 10 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown. “I wanted to go out there and prove myself.”
Despite the interest in Gordon, the Browns insisted they weren’t shopping him. They listened when teams called with quality offers, but nothing was good enough to sway them.
Receiver Greg Little and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz were also mentioned in reports, but remain. They have struggled to start the year and have eight weeks left to change the front office’s impressions of them. Trades will be allowed again March 11 at the start of the 2014 league year.
Gordon was a second-round pick of the 2012 supplemental draft and is signed through 2015 as part of his four-year, $5.3 million rookie contract that contains $3.8 million guaranteed.
The shocking trade of running back Trent Richardson on Sept. 18 let everyone know that CEO Joe Banner is willing to make a bold move. It also started the rumors, reports and uneasiness within Browns headquarters.
“It’s one of those deals where you know you have to talk about it, but I can’t wait for it to be over with,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said Sunday of the deadline.
He was hoping Gordon would still be here today.
“Absolutely. Absolutely,” Jackson said. “The team that we have now — we can win with this team.”
2 PLAYERS ADDED
The Browns signed rookie offensive lineman Reid Fragel off Cincinnati’s practice squad and signed free-agent receiver Armanti Edwards. Receiver/returner Travis Benjamin was placed on injured reserve after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament Sunday.
Fragel (6-foot-8, 305 pounds) was a seventh-round pick of the Bengals out of Ohio State and spent the first eight weeks on their practice squad. He was a tight end for three years with the Buckeyes before switching to tackle as a senior and starting 12 games.
Edwards (5-11, 190) played 39 games in four seasons with the Carolina Panthers, catching five passes for 121 yards, returning 36 punts for a 7.0-yard average and returning 15 kickoffs for a 19.7 average. He appeared in four games this year and was waived Oct. 8.
He was a third-round pick out of Appalachian State, where he played quarterback. He was the first Division I player to throw for 10,000 yards and rush for 4,000 yards and went 42-7 as a starter, won two national titles and beat No. 5 Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2007.
The Browns also re-signed linebacker Brandon Magee and receiver Tori Gurley to the practice squad.
Magee’s been dealing with an oblique injury and was waived Saturday to make room for linebacker Darius Eubanks. Gurley has bounced back and forth from the practice squad to the active roster.
CRIBBS RUFFLES FEATHERS
Joshua Cribbs’ former teammates may have extra motivation when the Browns face the Jets on Dec. 22.
“We’re not the Browns,” Cribbs, a receiver/special teamer, told Newsday. “We’re not the team that gives up. We have fight in this team. They’re a motivated bunch of young guys. I’m just happy to be here and be able to contribute … Love it here.”
The comments came after the Jets lost 49-9 to Cincinnati. Cribbs spent eight years with the Browns and went to three Pro Bowls as a special teamer but wasn’t re-signed when he became a free agent in March.
He signed with Oakland in May, was cut before the season and joined the Jets on Oct. 15. He’s averaging 24.8 yards per kickoff return and 10.8 per punt return.
Cribbs made a home in Cleveland and became a fan favorite, but was known to get into trouble with some comments. He took grief from fans on Twitter after the Newsday story and claimed he was misquoted.
“Wow Browns fans why all the hate? Years of loyalty & one miss quote in an article an u now wish the worst 4me?” he tweeted. “I love y’all like a sibling we can fight as long as we always make up! Be blessed…”