Browns burst out of the gate in free agency

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Sports - By Jeff Schudel jschudel@news-her­ @jsproin­sider on Twit­ter

The Browns were nearly as ac­tive in set­ting the ta­ble on the first day of free agency as they were through trades, beef­ing up depth on the of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive lines as the league year be­gins to­day.

Eight-fig­ure salaries are be­ing handed out by NFL teams like Hal­loween candy as free agency hits full throt­tle, but Josh Gor­don isn’t get­ting one of them.

In­stead, Gor­don on March 13 signed for 2018 at the two-year vet­eran min­i­mum for $790,000 as an ex­clu­sive rights free agent af­ter be­ing ten­dered by the Browns, NFL Net­work re­ported.

An ERFA is a player whose con­tract ex­pired af­ter only one or two years in the league. Gor­don was a rookie in 2012, but be­cause of mul­ti­ple sus­pen­sions for vi­o­lat­ing the NFL’s sub­stance abuse pol­icy, he has ac­crued only two sea­sons. A ten­dered EFRA is pro­hib­ited from ne­go­ti­at­ing with an­other team.

A player must be on the 53-man ros­ter for at least six games to earn an ac­crued sea­son. Gor­don was on the ros­ter for five games in 2014 and five in 2017.

Gor­don will be a re­stricted free agent a year from now if he doesn’t sign a long-term con­tract with the Browns be­fore then. The Browns could ten­der him a con­tract next win­ter that would force a team sign­ing him to com­pen­sate the Browns with a first-round draft pick if he signs an of­fer sheet and the Browns don’t match it

Gor­don led the NFL in 2013 with 1,646 re­ceiv­ing yards.

He has played a to­tal of 40 games over four sea­sons and has 179 catches for 3,089 re­ceiv­ing yards.

He caught 18 passes for 335 yards and a touch­down in five games for the Browns in 2017 af­ter be­ing re­in­stated.

Just to put how much money Gor­don’s trou­bled past is cost­ing him — not to men­tion he wasn’t paid a dime by the Browns in 2015 or ’16 be­cause he was sus­pended both sea­sons — Sammy Watkins, a rookie wide re­ceiver with the Bills in 2014, has 192 ca­reer catches for 3,052 yards. Watkins is sign­ing a three-year, $48 mil­lion deal


The Browns’ Josh Gor­don will play for a cap-friendly $790,000 this sea­son.

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