CANTON — Browns owner Jimmy Haslam hasn’t given up on All-Pro receiver Josh Gordon.
Haslam didn’t specifically discuss ESPN’s report that Gordon could face an indefinite suspension for failing a marijuana test, because it’s against NFL policy for the team to comment until the suspension is official. But Haslam talked in general terms about Gordon’s past and future with the organization.
“I will say Josh is 22 years old, OK?” Haslam said Monday, speaking at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club. “And all of us need to think back to when we were 22 or think back to when our kids were 22, OK?
“Josh is learning and growing and improving as a person. He’s learning how to work hard. He’s learning how to be a professional. Josh is a smart young man. All of us have made mistakes when we were that age. We’re counting on Josh being a good football player for the Browns for a long time to come. I’ve been very pleased with his professional growth over the last year and the way he handles himself.”
ESPN reported Friday, citing anonymous sources, that Gordon failed an offseason test for marijuana and was notified he will be suspended. He would be expected to appeal.
Gordon was suspended for the first two games last season and fined an additional two game checks for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He blamed codeine prescribed by a doctor.
That put him in Stage 3 of the NFL’s drug program. If the report is true, he would face an indefinite suspension, with the right to apply for reinstatement after a year.
Gordon returned in Week 3 last season and led the NFL with a franchise-record 1,646 yards receiving. The Browns didn’t add a receiver in the draft last week.
“We’re confident we have a plan, that the situation didn’t call for panic. That’s something we weren’t going to do,” coach Mike Pettine told reporters at the Cleveland Browns Foundation golf tournament at Barrington Golf Club in Aurora. “I agree with Ray (Farmer, general manager) 1,000 percent that we have to build this team so that no one player drives the ship, that we can be insulated.
“Losing players for extended periods of time potentially is part of the game. Successful franchises are the ones that have enough depth built and enough options that they have from scheme-wise, coaching-wise to account for it.”
Quarterback Vince Young’s tenure with the Browns lasted less than two weeks.
Haslam actually broke the news during his speech, and the team later announced the move.
Young was signed May 1 after a three-day tryout during a minicamp. Veteran quarterback Tyler Thigpen was also signed after a tryout and remains on the roster.
Young was expendable after the Browns drafted Johnny Manziel with the No. 22 pick Thursday night and signed South Carolina’s Connor Shaw as an undrafted free agent. The Browns have four quarterbacks on the roster: incumbent Brian Hoyer, Manziel, Thigpen and Shaw.
Quarterback Alex Tanney, best-known for his trick-shot video, was also released. He was picked up last season but has never taken an NFL snap.
Young was the No. 3 pick in the 2006 draft. He’s 31-19 as a starter with 46 touchdowns and 51 interceptions.
The Browns signed 11 undrafted rookies to go with the six draft picks.
Shaw (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) headlines the group. He’s the winningest quarterback in Gamecocks history with a 27-5 record and completed 65.5 percent for 6,074 yards with 56 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
The Browns added four receivers: San Jose State’s Chandler Jones (5-9, 185), Florida State’s Kenny Shaw (5-11, 180), Vanderbilt’s Jonathan Krause (5-11, 190) and Ball State’s Willie Snead (5-11, 195).
Jones is San Jose State’s career leader in receptions (248), receiving yards (3,087) and touchdown catches (29). Kenny Shaw had 54 catches and 933 receiving yards as a senior. Snead totaled 214 catches, 2,940 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns.
The Browns also signed Southern Illinois fullback Ray Agnew, West Virginia defensive back Darwin Cook (Cleveland Shaw High School), Oklahoma State defensive lineman Calvin Barnett, Alabama State running back Isaiah Crowell and offensive linemen Anthony Dima (Massachusetts) and Michael Philipp (Oregon State).
- The Browns also released running back Fozzy Whittaker, defensive back Brandon Hughes and defensive lineman Brian Sanford. Whittaker made two starts in 11 games with Cleveland last year. He rushed 28 times for 79 yards (2.8 average) and caught 21 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns.
- Haslam said the stadium renovations are on schedule, on budget and will be ready for the first home preseason game in August.
- Haslam called the team’s recent performance “not acceptable and not worthy of the fan base we have.”