Josh Gordon gets to join Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
The Browns get a fifth-round draft pick in 2019 — and to be rid of Gordon, his unreliability and the constant worry of what was next to come.
The Browns are finally, officially, finished with Gordon, the highly talented but too-often-unavailable receiver. They gave him a new start in New England.
Coach Hue Jackson was on a conference call with reporters Monday afternoon as the trade was announced by the team.
“I am glad that there is closure,” he said, adding that the time had come to part ways. “We have done all we can do for Josh. We tried to create the right environment. Sometimes, it just does not work out. Sometimes, you just need a different change of scenery.
“Hopefully, things work out for Josh. We support him that way and wish nothing but the best for him.”
Gordon will be coached by Belichick and thrown to by Brady, who’ve combined to win 224 games and five Super Bowls. It will be interesting to see how they deal with Gordon’s less-than-precise route-running.
During Gordon’s years of drug suspensions and unavailability, fans feared he would eventually join another team and live up to his vast potential. The opportunity will be provided by the Patriots, perennial Super Bowl contenders desperate for receiver help after a 1-1 start.
“I can’t worry about that,” Jackson said. “We have to do what we think is best for our organization and our football team, and that is what we did.
“Josh is no longer here so I do not even want to comment about what could be or what could not have been.”
After six-plus years of drug suspensions, rehab stints, broken promises and unrealized potential, the Browns decided Saturday they were done with Gordon. General manager John Dorsey announced he’d release Gordon on Monday but preferred to trade him.
Other teams expressed an interest — Washington, San Francisco and Dallas were most frequently connected to a possible deal — so it’s interesting Dorsey chose the Patriots, even if they made the best offer. They’re also in the AFC and could get a Gordon motivated to perform and earn a lucrative contract somewhere. Gordon’s salary for this year is $790,000 and he’s scheduled to be a restricted free agent after the season.
The Browns received a fifth-round pick. The Patriots would get a seventh-rounder if Gordon is active for fewer than 10 games. The Browns own New England’s third-round pick through a trade for nose tackle Danny Shelton.
Jackson was asked if he believes Gordon no longer wanted to play for the Browns.
“I do not feel that was the case,” he said. “I just think there were things that we felt that were not what we want to have happen here.”
The loss of Gordon is a significant hit to a largely young and unproven receiver group. Jarvis Landry has 412 career catches, with Rod Streater next at 127. Streater was signed Monday after the trade.
Rashard Higgins has 39, rookie Antonio Callaway three — all Sunday in the loss to the Saints, including a 47-yard touchdown with 1:16 left — and rookies Damion Rathley and Derrick Willies none.
Streater (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) is in his sixth season after going undrafted out of Temple. He’s played in 52 games with the Raiders and 49ers with 127 catches for 1,755 yards and 10 touchdowns. He spent the preseason with the Bills, and was in training camp with Kansas City in 2016 when Dorsey was the general manager.
“Obviously Callaway needs to play. We are looking forward to him playing,” Jackson said. “This gives him the opportunity to have more swings at it. Hopefully, he will be ready for that role.”
The Patriots make a practice of picking up teams’ castoffs, including former Browns receivers Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman, to varying degrees of success.
Britt had two catches in three games with the Patriots last year and was cut before this season. Coleman was signed last week, inactive Sunday for New England’s loss to Jacksonville and was cut to make room for Gordon.
The last straw for the Browns with Gordon came Saturday, as he was late for the team’s walkthrough and reported a mysterious hamstring injury that wasn’t suffered in practice, according to a league source. He was ruled out for the Saints game and didn’t travel. According to NFL Network, Gordon had an MRI on the hamstring and will be fine to play this week.
The Browns were already on high alert because of Gordon’s history.
Gordon, 27, has dealt with addiction issues for years and has made several trips to rehabilitation facilities. He missed the first three weeks of training camp to work on his sobriety and mental health.
The Browns welcomed him back with strict guidelines. The unusual events of Saturday and concerns about Gordon’s behavior were enough for the organization to further lose trust and determine he was no longer worth the trouble.
Gordon was selected in the second round of the supplemental draft in 2012 and played for five Browns regimes. At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds with sprinter’s speed and natural hands, Gordon’s as talented as any receiver in the league.
He proved that in 2013, when he led the league with a franchise-record 1,646 receiving yards in just 14 games — after serving the first of his many suspensions. He became the only player in NFL history with back-to-back 200-yard receiving games and made first-team All-Pro.
He never was on the field long enough to duplicate or build on that success.
He missed the first 10 games of 2014 on a drug suspension, played five games, then didn’t play again until the final five games of 2017. He missed 43 straight games and 54 of 64 from 2014-17.
He played 41 games with the Browns, with 180 catches for 3,106 yards and 16 touchdowns.