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Does WR Josh Gordon Make Sense For Ravens?

September 17, 2018
Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon is reportedly available, and like every other time a player the average person has heard of becomes available, Baltimore Ravens fans are interested. 

The easiest thing to do here would be to say something along the lines of "this is insane" or even something slightly less direct like, "I'd probably pass," or perhaps something even more passive aggressive like, "I just think the negatives might outweigh the positives this time." But I'd rather try to think it through and determine if it might be worth the Ravens pursuing the troubled soon-to-be former Browns star. 

(For what it's worth, at least one person who is well plugged in with the Browns -- ESPNCleveland.com's Tony Grossi -- thinks the Ravens are the favorites to land Gordon. Or at least he did for an hour, before making them the seventh-most likely landing spot on this list. That was a weird bit.)

So where to begin? I guess the first issue would be whether the Ravens even need a receiver right now. To answer that question fairly, I think we need to ask ourselves seriously, “Is today a day that ends in a 'Y?'" If the answer is yes, it's reasonable to assume the Ravens need a receiver. 

Look, the team's offseason acquisitions at receiver -- Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead -- have all looked decent (and in moments, spectacular) through the first two weeks of the season. But none have the combination of the 6-foot-3 size and 4.30 40-yard dash (at least as of late last season) speed of Gordon. The Ravens might not be as desperate as they were a year ago, but yes, they could use him. 

After addressing that, the next combination of factors have to be weighed at the same time. Those factors are: 

- Whether it would be worth trading for him (the Browns are reportedly hoping to deal him before they'd release him Sept. 17)
- Whether it would be worth signing him if he isn't traded 
- Whether Gordon is worth the risk due to his off-field issues

The problem with addressing either of the first two is it's impossible to answer those definitively without feeling confident about the third. My initial reaction to those who were asking about the possibility of the Ravens trying to acquire him was something along the lines of, "I wouldn't trade for him, but I might be willing to sign him."

Some might argue if you're willing to sign a player on the open market, you might as well be willing to give up a conditional late-round draft pick (I can't fathom the Browns getting any more than that for Gordon) to ensure those services and prevent the player from deciding they'd simply rather play for another team. 

Some Ravens fans even suggested perhaps the team should attempt to deal kicker Kaare Vedvik to Cleveland in exchange for the former All-Pro. After the Browns' kicker, Zane Gonzalez, missed two field goals and two extra points during their loss to the Saints Sept. 16, the Browns are presumably going to be in the market for kicking help. 

But trading Vedvik actually isn't an option, even if he's somehow already recovered from that terrible late August attack (which we have no knowledge of either). Due to being placed on the Reserve/Non-football injury list, Vedvik couldn't even be activated until after Week 6, meaning he would be of no help to the Browns right now.

That aside, I understand the argument that if you're willing to sign a player at all, you should probably be willing to give up low-risk compensation in order to make it happen. So let's zero in on whether it's truly worth signing Gordon at all.

Considering everything the Browns have been through with Gordon, who has played in just 11 games since the end of the 2014 season, the idea that they're divorcing themselves from him now is an overwhelming concern. What could have possibly changed at this point that would lead to the team finally reaching its last straw with the player? How could it be any worse now than it was when they went through suspension after suspension with him? Is it possible that at this point the Browns are no longer confident in his football skills, either, and that lack of confidence has made them less willing to accept his off-field issues?

It's hard to read Cleveland.com's report of what led to Gordon's demise with that franchise and think he's a player worth employing whatsoever. 

"Team doctors examined him, and in addition to the tweaked hamstring, there was concern that perhaps he was struggling again with his sobriety or on the verge of relapsing, sources said."

Like so many, my personal connections to those who have battled addiction leave me sympathetic. I understand addiction is a disease. But I couldn't understand choosing to employ someone, no matter how low the risk, if I had real reason to believe that addict was currently struggling with their sobriety. I'd certainly be supportive of them seeking more help, but I wouldn't choose to employ them. 

I just think the negatives might outweigh the positives this time. I'd probably pass on acquiring Gordon in any way. Honestly, the more I think about it, this is insane. 

But if there's a way to improve the Ravens' lack of pass rush and depleted secondary during the next two weeks without cornerback Jimmy Smith, let's talk more about that. 

Follow Glenn Clark on Twitter @GlennClarkRadio