The Cleveland Browns had to anticipate that they would lose Josh Gordon for the entire 2014 season after yet another run-in with the league’s substance-abuse policy, as it was a major uphill battle for him to win the appeals process. He, of course, didn’t win, but at least he won’t be banned for a whole year, as he can file for reinstatement upon the conclusion of the season, meaning that he can actually work with Johnny Manziel and the rest of the team when the 2015 offseason rolls around.
In the meantime, the Browns have to figure out how to run a well-oiled passing attack without one of the game’s elite players, and there’s really no need to go over Gordon’s credentials or numbers; they are well-known. Miles Austin, Andrew Hawkins, and young players like Chandler Jones will be counted on to step up in his absence, but those wide receivers can’t replace Gordon in the eyes of one Browns official, who said to the NFL Network’s Judy Battista,“He’s arguably the best wide receiver in the league. You don’t replace that guy. This is not ‘next man up.’ “
This quote came weeks before today’s announcement of Gordon’s suspension, and it rings even more true now. Gordon’s inability to reach a settlement prevented this from becoming anything but an all-or-nothing affair, in which case the star wideout was always destined to lose. While the Browns can’t replace Gordon, they can get better play out of their QB and RBs, and their defense could be even better next season for a variety of reasons, with Karlos Dansby being one of them.