Josh Gordon has been suspended by the Cleveland Browns for the final game of the regular season after missing a team walk-through according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. It is a move that will likely cost the troubled wide receiver millions down the road.
This suspension, combined with the 10-game suspension he served to start the season for a failed drug test, means Gordon will have only been on the active roster for five games this season.
This is important because a player needs four seasons with at least gix games on the active roster in order to be eligible for free agency. Gordon will likely not get credit for an “accrued” season this year meaning he will no longer be eligible for free agency following the 2015 season.
Instead, Gordon will likely be declared a restricted free agent after the 2015 season which gives the Browns the right to match any offer he receives from another team. The Browns could also receive draft pick compensation if Gordon agrees to a deal with another team and the Browns choose not to match the offer.
If intentional, it was a brilliant move by the Browns as they will either get to keep a top wide receiver at a cheaper rate or receive a good draft pick if they let him go.
According to a source for Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, this was exactly the motivation by the team for the suspension.
Source says Browns management thought it was prudent to take this opportunity to prevent Josh Gordon from gaining accrued season toward FA
— Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) December 27, 2014
However, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, there is some vague language in the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) which could lead to a legal battle over Gordon’s free agency.
The CBA says a player should be credited with an accrued season if “he was on, or should have been on, full pay status for a total of six or more regular season games.” However, the CBA does not define what “should have been on” means. Florio suggests that one “common-sense application” of that phrase would be a team suspension.
So it would appear that this situation is far from over. But you can be sure other teams will be watching closely as they may look to use the same loop-hole in the future.
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