General manager John Dorsey released a statement about the move:
"For the past six years, the Browns have fully supported and invested in Josh, both personally and professionally and wanted the best for him, but unfortunately we've reached a point where we feel it's best to part ways and move forward. We wish Josh well."
Gordon played 78 percent of the team's offensive snaps in the opening-week tie against the Steelers, even drawing an unexpected start that coach Hue Jackson called a "mistake" due to miscommunication with his offensive coordinator. Jackson had previously said Gordon would start the game on the bench because he wanted to give other receivers who had been with the team all camp the opportunity. Gordon caught just one pass on three targets, but it was a 17-yard touchdown that tied the game with less than two minutes left in regulation.
The 27-year-old receiver has had a tumultuous career in the NFL filled with highs and lows. He led the league with 1,646 receiving yards on 87 receptions in 2013, his second year as a pro, but then played just 10 games over the next four seasons while serving multiple suspensions resulting from violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy. Gordon stepped away from the team this preseason to as part of his recovery.
Though there's plenty of mystery surrounding the abrupt move, CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora reports that the Browns didn't make the decision to move on from Gordon based on any apparent off-field issue that would prevent the receiver from joining another NFL team:
As of now does not sound like there is any off field issue to prevent another team from signing Josh Gordon. Browns reached a point where they could no longet trust the troubled WR, I'm told.— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) September 15, 2018
Gordon was ruled out for the Saints game on Saturday due to a hamstring injury despite no mention of the issue on the injury report during the week. A report emerged from NFL.com shortly after the Browns' announcement that how he injured the hamstring after being healthy at practice on Friday played a part in the decision to release the receiver.
On Josh Gordon: He was late today to the facility, source said. In addition, he was fine at Friday’s practice, then injured his hamstring. The question of how is part of the reason they released him. My understanding is it’s an overall trust issue for a player on thin ice.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 15, 2018
Gordon was reportedly "not himself" after he did show up to the team facility on Saturday, per Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot:
Many are wondering where Gordon will end up. While the is scheduled to be released on Monday, it's possible another organization works out a trade to prevent Gordon from becoming a free agent:
Teams already calling the Browns, who league sources believe are far more likely to trade Josh Gordon than release him.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 16, 2018
Gordon is a vested vet and is not subject to waivers. So if he is cut, he is a free agent and can sign where he wants, for what he wants.
A lot at stake.
On the Browns side, the team could revisit signing Dez Bryant after bringing the former Cowboy in for a visit during the preseason. With Gordon now no longer with the team, the Browns' top three receivers are Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins and fourth-round rookie Antonio Callaway..