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Browns notebook: Wide receiver Josh Gordon remains with team as trade deadline passes without deal

By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer

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The NFL trade deadline passed at 4 p.m. Tuesday with the Browns standing pat despite rampant speculation about the possibility of them shipping away wide receiver Josh Gordon or making a smaller splash with another deal.

Now teams may not make trades until the new league year begins at 4 p.m. March 11.

Gordon, 22, reiterated Sunday after the Browns’ 23-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs that he was tired of all the rumors and answering questions about them. He was eager for the deadline to arrive.

“When [the trade deadline is] over, it’s over,” Gordon said. “However it goes, it’s beyond me, it’s above me. I will be excited either way. Hopefully, [I’ll] get some new questions.

“I do want to stay in Cleveland. Cleveland is my first home, the team I got drafted to. It’s a great place to be. I love the fans in Cleveland and everything about it, but business is business.”

Reports surfaced during the past six weeks about the Browns receiving offers for Gordon, who was picked in the second round of last year’s supplemental draft by the previous regime. Last week, ESPN reported that the Browns had standing offers from two teams of a high pick and a player for Gordon.

Still, Browns coach Rob Chudzinski and CEO Joe Banner stressed that the organization had no plans to trade Gordon. But they never ruled out the possibility of a deal, either.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Gordon has 32 catches for 582 yards and three touchdowns in six games this season. His receiving yardage is ranked 15th in the NFL, and his 18.2 yards per catch is ranked second among the top-50 receivers in the league.

But even though Gordon is clearly the Browns’ most dangerous weapon on offense, there is a risk in keeping him. The NFL suspended Gordon for the first two games this season for violating its substance-abuse policy, the result of a failed drug test he blamed on prescription cough medicine that contained codeine. It’s Gordon’s understanding that one more violation of the policy would result in a banishment from the league of at least one season.

Inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, the defense’s captain, said Sunday after the game that he hoped Gordon remained with the Browns (3-5).

“Absolutely,” Jackson said. “The team that we have now — we can with this team.

Other Browns players mentioned in trade rumblings before the deadline were tight end Jordan Cameron, wide receiver Greg Little and right offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz.

Jackson said it would be a relief when the deadline passed.

“It's one of those deals where you know you have to talk about it,” Jackson said. “But I can't wait for it to be over with.”

Roster moves

The Browns signed free-agent wide receiver Armanti Edwards in addition to signing rookie offensive lineman Reid Fragel off the practice squad of the Cincinnati Bengals, the team announced Tuesday.

Wide receiver and standout punt returner Travis Benjamin was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee suffered Sunday. The Browns also no longer need to count wide receiver Charles Johnson, who was signed off the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad two weeks ago before the Browns discovered during his introductory physical that he had a torn ACL, toward their 53-man roster. So Edwards and Fragel have filled the roster spots vacated by Benjamin and Johnson.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Edwards is in his fourth NFL season out of Appalachian State, where he played quarter­back when the Mountaineers stunned Michigan in 2007. Drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the third round (89th overall) in 2010, he appeared in 39 regular-season games, tallying five receptions for 121 yards, two carries for 12 yards, 36 punt returns for 253 yards and 15 kickoff returns for 295 yards. He appeared in four games this season and was waived by the Panthers on Oct. 8. Chudzinski was the Panthers’ offensive coordinator the past two seasons.

The Bengals drafted the 6-8, 305-pound Fragel in the seventh round (240th overall) this year. Fragel, who played tight end at Ohio State before converting to tackle as a senior, spent the first eight weeks this season on the Bengals’ practice squad.

The Browns also re-signed wide receiver Tori Gurley and linebacker Brandon Magee to their practice squad.

Josh Cribbs controversy

Former Browns wide receiver and special-teams ace Josh Cribbs had some explaining to do Monday night.

Cribbs was quoted by Newsday — he claims misquoted — after his current team, the New York Jets, suffered a 49-9 loss Sunday to the Cincinnati Bengals, and the comments were classic bulletin-board material.

The story was published on the newspaper’s website Monday night.

“We're not the Browns,” Cribbs said, according to Newsday. “We're not the team that gives up. We have fight in this team. They're a motivated bunch of young guys. I'm just happy to be here and be able to contribute. ... Love it here.”

Cribbs also reportedly mentioned former Browns and Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards while explaining that his new team expects its players to “play like a Jet.”

“The GM [John Idzik] takes that to the heart,” Cribbs said, according to Newsday. “Like Braylon Edwards. He could've played here, but they said ‘he didn't play like a Jet. Get him out of here.’ So last week [the Jets’ win against the New England Patriots] proved to me that this is not the Browns. If we were, we would've lost those games.”

After receiving backlash on social media, Cribbs wrote on Twitter that he was misquoted. Either way, those quotes will be a hot topic leading up to Dec. 22 when the Browns visit the Jets (4-4).

Cribbs spent eight seasons with the Browns and made three Pro Bowls as a kick returner before the new regime let him walk this year in free agency. Cribbs signed with the Jets on Oct. 15, two months after the Oakland Raiders cut him during training camp.

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.


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