Gordon signed his $790,000 exclusive rights free agent tender Monday, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.
Thanks to a series of suspensions, the 27-year-old wideout has only two accrued seasons in the NFL. He'll be a restricted free agent next year if he can stay out of trouble, and he's gotten off to a good start by reporting Monday for the start of the Browns' offseason program. Gordon will compete with Jarvis Landry and Corey Coleman for targets from Tyrod Taylor, who is expected to enter Week 1 as the Browns' starting quarterback. Head coach Hue Jackson said he's committed to Taylor for 2018, even though the Browns likely will use the No. 1 overall pick on a signal-caller. Gordon made his first regular-season appearances since 2014 this past December, catching 18 of 43 targets for 335 yards (7.8 YPT) and a touchdown in five games to close out the season. He has the physical traits of a high-end No. 1 receiver, but there's no guarantee he gets the target volume to match, especially after the Browns signed Landry to a massive extension.
This is a mere formality, as Gordon has only accrued two years of NFL service time and thus can't become a restricted free agent until next offseason. He returned from his lengthy run of suspensions in December, catching 18 of 43 targets for 335 yards and a touchdown in five games. Gordon will turn 27 in April, shortly before the Browns begin their offseason workout program. He'll have more competition for targets following the trade for Jarvis Landry, but it's also fair to expect a boost in efficiency with Landry and Tyrod Taylor now in Cleveland.
Gordon will be an exclusive rights free agent rather than a restricted free agent this offseason, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com reports.
Gordon, whose return to the Browns on Dec. 3 against the Chargers marked his first NFL action in nearly three years, finished the past campaign with five appearances, which wasn't enough for him to accrue a full season of service time. The extensive time Gordon has missed due to suspension will keep him under club control through at least 2018 and prevent him from negotiating with other teams this spring. Assuming he can stay on the straight and narrow during the offseason, Gordon, who caught 18 passes for 335 yards and a score in his five outings, profiles as the Browns' clear top pass-catching option during the upcoming season.
Gordon caught four of seven targets for 115 yards during Sunday's 28-24 loss to the Steelers.
Gordon was the main factor in DeShone Kizer's career passing day, going over the 100-yard mark for the first time this season. The bulk of his production came on a 54-yard gain which was initially ruled a touchdown, only for replay to reveal that he stepped out of bounds just before the end zone. Gordon returned from a lengthy absence in Week 13, but the 335 receiving yards he posted over the remainder of the campaign put him on pace for over 1,000 when extrapolated over 16 games. Gordon will be an exclusive rights free agent after the season, but his display over the final weeks of the season should entice teams to spend on him as a potential gamebreaker on the outside.
Gordon brought in two of eight targets for 19 yards in Sunday's 20-3 loss to the Bears.
Gordon turned in his least productive effort since making his season debut Week 13, and DeShone Kizer's inaccurate throws certainly didn't help his cause. Additionally, as per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, Gordon was also apparently fighting an illness. Despite the disappointing stat line Sunday, the 26-year-old certainly has proven he possesses plenty of play-making ability, despite a near-three-year layoff due to suspensions. He'll look to wrap up his comeback season in better fashion against the Steelers in Week 17.
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