Maybe Josh Gordon won't be dealt after all.
Cleveland Browns coach Rob Chudzinski has swatted down reports that their productive deep threat is on the block, and team CEO Joe Banner told USA Today this week: "We're absolutely not shopping Josh. We're not going to shop him and we don't have any plan or intention to trade him."
Gordon's name repeatedly has bubbled up as reported trade bait. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport noted Monday that Cleveland talked with the San Francisco 49ers, among other teams, about acquiring a second-round draft pick for the pass-catcher.
Banner doesn't deny the Browns have fielded inquiries, but he says he isn't the one initiating those conversations.
"When we did the Trent Richardson trade, the perception was we were throwing in the towel, (so) we got calls on players. I guess that was a natural reaction based on how the move was perceived," Banner said. "If you're in this long enough, you learn to never say anything absolute, because then something comes up and you look like you lied. I personally -- and I think anybody here -- would be completely shocked if we ended up trading him. Josh is playing great. He's working his butt off."
As NFL Media's Charley Casserly pointed out to The Plain Dealer: "Saying there's 'no intention to trade him' doesn't mean he isn't trading him. It means they aren't trading him this moment."
Said Casserly: "What they're saying is we're not afraid to make moves and be aggressive, this is going to be our philosophy. You can see they are loading up for next year. Joe Banner is always going to have $20 million under the salary cap and he does a great job of always having one eye on this year and one eye on next year."
Gordon would make any offense better, but -- as we've said all along -- nabbing a second-round pick for a player just one failed drug test away from a year-long ban is tricky. The Browns comprehend Gordon's immense talent, but his baggage is concerning. If a deal doesn't go down, it simply tells us, among other things, that Cleveland wasn't willing to sell low.