Losing the league's leading wide receiver wouldn't be easy for any team, but it's especially disastrous for this Kyle Shanahan attack bereft of pass-catchers and missing the most important piece of all: dependable play at the quarterback position.
Gordon found a way to pile up 1,646 yards over 14 starts last season with Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell throwing the ball. Brian Hoyer, too, but his involvement is overblown: He attempted just 96 passes before suffering a season-ending knee injury in October.
The quarterback situation will dominate from wire to wire, but let's examine five other players under pressure to deliver if the Browns stand a chance on offense:
Jordan Cameron, tight end
The Pro Bowl tight end broke out under Norv Turner, finishing second only to Jimmy Graham in receiving yards and third in receptions at his position in 2013. Chris Wesseling recently called Cameron "90 percent of Graham -- without benefit of Drew Brees."
Defenses paid more attention to Cameron down the stretch. He continued to make plays, though, as secondaries struggled to keep up with Gordon during a November-into-December stretch that saw the wideout haul in 36 passes for 774 yards and seven touchdowns -- over four games. Without Gordon in the lineup, teams will smother Cameron and make him work for every yard.
Ben Tate, running back
Just six backs registered more missed tackles in 2013 than Tate's 41, while his 2.4 yards after contact were tied with LeSean McCoy and Matt Forte. His track record as a lead back is scant, but Tate's at home as a one-cut runner behind Shanahan's beloved zone-blocking scheme.
The Browns are a candidate to lead the AFC in rushing attempts, but a punchless, Gordon-free air attack suggests disaster. Eight-man boxes will be a common sight for Tate and rookie Terrance West if the passing game is dead on arrival.
Mitchell Schwartz, right tackle
Just three tackles gave up more sacks last season than Schwartz, and nobody allowed more quarterback hits. The right tackle spot remains a question mark for the Browns, one reason they snatched up former Seahawks starter Michael Bowie off waivers this month. Bowie won't play this year because of a shoulder injury, leaving Schwartz on the hot seat. If he doubles down on last year's catastrophe, Cleveland's quarterbacks are a goner.
Andrew Hawkins, receiver
Hawkins was signed as an upgrade in the slot over the comprehensively unreliable Davone Bess. Baby Hawk impressed in camp, but he fits better as a No. 3 with a beast like Gordon drawing top cornerbacks. Hawkins brings impressive speed, but his 5-foot-7 frame raises concerns in the rough-and-tumble AFC North.
Miles Austin, receiver
The former Cowboys star has been a ghost in preseason action, struggling to develop chemistry with his quarterbacks and sporting a shoddy 42.9 catch percentage. Two years removed from a 66-grab season, a healthy Austin is set up well for a bounce-back outing, but we aren't expecting much from the league's 32nd-ranked No. 1 wideout.