Banned all last season for violating the league's policy on substances of abuse, the NFL's leading wideout from 2013 has officially applied for reinstatement. If he's cleared, Browns VP of football operations Sashi Brown says Gordon would have a home again in Cleveland.
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"Josh is a tremendously talented young man," Brown said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "I've gotten a chance to know Josh over the three years that I've been in Cleveland and know him generally to be a good young man. He understands that he's made some mistakes in the past. I think he's accountable for those and everything that we see and hear in talking to his representation and those that have been in communication with him is that he's eager to get back and contribute. And we feel like, you know, if he's kind of pushed those things, there's a spot for him on the roster to certainly help."
Brown confirmed the team is "very limited in terms of what we can do in terms of communication and contacting," but said: "By all signs, he's on the path to come back and be reinstated."
Cleveland does not expect to have a final decision on Gordon's reinstatement before free agency, with Brown going so far as to call it a league-mandated "black box." The feeling, though, is that the pass-catcher will return from the void, furnishing new coach Hue Jackson with the game-breaking receiver the Browns lacked for all but five starts over the past two seasons.
Here's what else we learned from #SASHI:
1. Cleveland's new regime spoke with "all their rising free agents" toward the end of the year -- wideout Travis Benjamin, safety Tashaun Gipson, offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz and opt-out candidate Alex Mack -- about sticking with the Browns. "We are currently in discussion with a number of our free agents," Brown said: "We won't be panicked on any one player, but there's some guys we feel like can contribute for us in the fall and we absolutely want to do everything we can to see if we can reach a deal that works for them and us to keep them as Cleveland Browns."
2. Specifically, talks are back on with Benjamin. As for Mack, the goal, per Brown, is to hammer out a reworked deal before Mack would pull the opt-out trigger on March 4. The club is also in contact with Gipson. The Browns do not expect to use the franchise or transition tag on any of their players.
3. This organization is tired of answering questions about Johnny Manziel. They won't need to after March 9, when he'll most certainly be cut, with Sashi saying Thursday: "Not gonna comment on Johnny. We want to give the young man some privacy."