PHOENIX: Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said the organization hasn’t discussed whether it still intends to move on from suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon in the event NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reinstates the 2013 All-Pro selection into the league.
Gordon reportedly applied for reinstatement at the beginning of this month and hopes the NFL will deliver a ruling by late April or early May.
“I’ll be honest, we have not talked about that,” Haslam said Monday during the NFL owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore hotel and resort. “[Head of football operations] Sashi [Brown], [coach] Hue [Jackson] and myself have not talked about that.”
Gordon has missed 43 of the past 48 games because of recurring violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy. He hasn’t appeared in a regular-season game since Dec. 21, 2014.
When he left the Browns in September to check into inpatient rehabilitation, the franchise made it clear it was done with him.
“Listen, when you spend as much time with our players as we do, you get to know them, and you root for them and you want them to do well in life,” Haslam said. “... We certainly wish the best for Josh, but until he gets reinstated, I can’t really comment on it.”
Defending rookie year
With Gordon out of sight and out of mind, the Browns hope Corey Coleman develops into a dominant receiver worthy of the 15th overall draft pick they spent on him last year.
Coleman said in December he felt as if he “let a lot of people down” as a rookie. He missed six games with a broken hand and finished with 33 catches for 413 yards and three touchdowns.
“I think you guys are tough on Corey,” Haslam said, referring to the media.
Haslam also defended Coleman’s production.
“Corey caught 33 passes in 10 games, so if he stays healthy, he catches 40 to 50,” he said. “There were two other receivers drafted in the first round. One didn’t play at all ’cause he was hurt, and one didn’t play hardly at all for other reasons. There were two guys picked in the second round who did pretty well. But very few wide receivers come in and tear it up their first year. So we have high hopes for Corey, think he’ll be a really good player.”
Coleman was the first of 14 players the Browns drafted last year. None of them made the Pro Football Writers of America all-rookie team.
“Do we wish some of them had been on it? Yeah,” Haslam said. “But I think they had solid years, and time will tell over the next two or three years how good those guys are. And I’ll just say what I’ve said again: it’s really important we have good drafts the next two years.”
Speaking of the draft, NFL Network reported the Browns were among the teams that met privately with former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon earlier this month on the eve of his pro day. Mixon punched a female Oklahoma student in the face as a freshman in 2014, and the attack was caught on video.
Still, Dee Haslam, co-owner and wife of Jimmy Haslam, said the incident alone wouldn’t preclude the Browns from drafting Mixon.
“I think he worked really hard on the team and has turned his life around,” she said. “I really admire people who work hard and turn their life around. I think there’s a lot to be said for that. I don’t know much about him particularly. That would be a decision by the football personnel. Do I think things in life preclude you from having a second chance? I don’t. I think if people are going to turn their life around that’s pretty admirable.”
Dee Haslam said the Browns will probably go through the process of changing their uniforms in 2020. They just went through the process in 2015 but aren’t satisfied with the results. NFL teams must wait at least five years between makeovers.
“The process is more challenging than you would think,” she said. “There’s a lot that goes into it. It has to be the right color. You have to see the numbers. It has to be the right color for the cameras, and it can’t be like the other team. There are like 1,000 different things that go in the process of the uniforms. It’s not a quick fix, so it’s really important, and I think it really does make a difference for a team. So we take it very seriously, and we’ll spend a lot of time on that.”
Thankful for fans
The Haslams apologized to fans in a letter after the Browns went 1-15 last season, and they also lowered the prices of many season tickets.
“So far, ticket sales are tracking well, better than expected,” Jimmy Haslam said. “The resilience and support of our fans has been tremendous. We’re slightly ahead of where we thought we’d be [in ticket sales].”
Dee Haslam added: “We’re really grateful to our fans. That’s one thing about Cleveland fans is they stick by their team. We admire that loyalty and greatly appreciate it. We’re humbled by it.”
The Browns signed offensive lineman Matt McCants, 6-foot-5 and 309 pounds. They claimed him off waivers from the Oakland Raiders on Nov. 28 but cut him Dec. 9.
He finished the 2016 season by appearing in two games with the Chicago Bears. McCants, 27, has appeared in 30 career games with three starts, all as a rookie in 2012.