The Browns are among the teams that won’t take advantage of the NFL’s new relaxed blackout policy.
The policy gives teams the option to decrease the number of nonpremium seats they must sell to avoid a local TV blackout to as low as 85 percent. By passing on a chance to lower the threshold, the Browns must continue to sell out home games 72 hours before kickoff, unless a deadline extension is granted, to ensure they’re televised locally.
“It’s a non-issue for us,” Neal Gulkis, the Browns’ vice president of media relations, said Monday. “Our fan support has been tremendous, and we fully expect that all of our games will be sold out and televised locally.”
The Browns have not had a home game blacked out since the finale of the 1995 season, after the franchise’s move to Baltimore was announced, but there have been some close calls. During the 2009 season, the Browns averted four blackouts by purchasing tickets along with some of their sponsors and television partners.
If a team takes advantage of the new policy, it must give the visiting club 50 cents on the dollar for every ticket sold above the lowered threshold. Visiting teams normally receive 34 cents on the dollar for each ticket sold.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, San Diego Chargers, Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts have also passed on the new policy, according to reports.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced they will take advantage of it.
Rookie deal done
The Browns signed rookie wide receiver Josh Gordon, the team announced Monday.
The four-year deal is worth about $5.3 million with $3.8 million guaranteed, a league source confirmed for the Beacon Journal. The Browns picked Gordon on Thursday in the second round of the NFL’s supplemental draft.
As a sophomore at Baylor in 2010, Gordon caught 42 passes for 714 yards and seven touchdowns. Gordon was arrested for marijuana possession in October of that season, and he recently told the Houston Chronicle he was suspended indefinitely by Baylor after failing a marijuana test in the summer of 2011. He then enrolled at Utah, where he practiced last season but did not play in any games because of NCAA transfer rules.
General Manager Tom Heckert said he did his homework and believes the 6-foot-3, 224-pound Gordon will be able to immediately contribute for the Browns despite his history of off-the-field issues.
“He is a guy that can come in here and be an eventual starter for us and make plays for us,” Heckert said last week during a conference call. “I think anytime you draft a guy there is always some risk involved, but we think we got a good football player.”
The Browns have yet to sign first-round picks Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden. Heckert said he expects both players to sign their rookie deals in time for training camp. Rookies report July 24 and practice the next day. Training camp opens to the public on July 28.
The Browns did not reach a multiyear deal with kicker Phil Dawson before the deadline for teams to secure franchise-tagged players beyond the upcoming season passed at 4 p.m. Monday.
As a result, Dawson will play the 2012 season under a one-year franchise tag of $3.81 million. The Browns also franchised Dawson last year.
In March, Heckert said it was the Browns’ goal to sign Dawson to a long-term deal. Dawson said he wanted the same, but it didn’t happen. The two sides can try again after the 2012 season.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/browns.abj.