Browns will release receiver Josh Gordon, unless he's traded first

The Cleveland Browns’ seemingly never-ending patience with receiver Josh Gordon finally ran out.

Early Saturday, the team ruled Gordon out of Sunday’s game with a sudden hamstring injury. Then on Saturday evening they announced they will release Gordon.

Notice the Browns reminding everyone that for six years they gave Gordon chance after chance, despite numerous suspensions. The end of the line came Saturday, though the Browns did not cut him immediately. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Gordon hurt his hamstring at a promotional shoot, not in practice, which clearly upset the Browns.

Schefter reported that teams immediately started calling the Browns about a trade, and “league sources believe are far more likely to trade Josh Gordon than release him.” If he’s cut, Gordon can become a free agent immediately Schefter said. The Browns said in their statement they would release Gordon on Monday, but perhaps the trade interest will affect the timeline.

However, longtime Cleveland.com beat writer Mary Kay Cabot’s report on Saturday night was troubling, given Gordon’s history of substance abuse:

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Josh Gordon throughout his NFL career
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Josh Gordon throughout his NFL career
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 23: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns looks on during an NFL preseason game against the St. Louis Rams at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 23, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 9, 2014: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 (L) and wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 (R) of the Cleveland Browns stand for the national anthem prior to a preseason game against the Detroit Lions on August 9, 2014 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won 13-12. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 09: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to the start of the preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on August 9, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Browns 13-12 in a preseason game. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 09: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to the start of the preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on August 9, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Browns 13-12 in a preseason game. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
JULY 29, 2014 - BEREA, OH: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns catches a pass prior to a training camp practice at the Cleveland Browns training facility in Berea, Ohio on July 29, 2014. (Photo by: Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 01: Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon attends the 3rd Annual NFL Honors at Radio City Music Hall on February 1, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 12: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns participates in warm ups before the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on August 12, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 18, 2016: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns walks onto the field prior to a preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons on August 18, 2016 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Atlanta won 24-13. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 19, 2017: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns walks onto the field prior to a game on November 19, 2017 against the Jacksonville Jaguars at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Jacksonville won 19-7. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 26, 2017: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns walks onto the field prior to a game on November 26, 2017 against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati won 30-16. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CARSON, CA - DECEMBER 03: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center on December 3, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 10: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates a touchdown in the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 10, 2017: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns carries the ball prior to a game on December 10, 2017 against the Green Bay Packers at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Green Bay won 27-21 in overtime. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 10, 2017: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns gestures toward the crowd after catching a touchdown pass in the first quarter of a game on December 10, 2017 against the Green Bay Packers at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. The touchdown was Gordon's first since returning from suspension. Green Bay won 27-21 in overtime. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 17: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns warms up before the game against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 17, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 31: Cleveland Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson shakes hands with Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Josh Gordon (12) during the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 31, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 31, 2017: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns runs a route prior to a game on December 31, 2017 against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh won 28-24. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
BEREA, OH - JUNE 12, 2018: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns catches a pass during a mandatory mini camp on June 12, 2018 at the Cleveland Browns training facility in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by: 2018 Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 09: Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden (23) breaks up a pass intended for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) during the third quarter of the National Football League game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns on September 9, 2018, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH. Pittsburgh and Cleveland tied 21-21. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Sep 9, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) catches a touchdown as Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton (20) defends during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 2: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (left) congratulates Josh Gordon after his touchdown in the third quarter. The New England Patriots play against the Minnesota Vikings at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough on Dec. 02, 2018. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 02: Josh Gordon #10 of the New England Patriots reacts after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Gillette Stadium on December 2, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 09: Josh Gordon #10 of the New England Patriots looks on prior to the game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on December 9, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Josh Gordon has been unreliable through his career

The early Saturday injury news with Gordon was surprising, yet because it was Gordon, maybe it wasn’t that surprising.

Gordon wasn’t on the injury report at all during the week. But on Saturday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said he came in and told trainers his hamstring wasn’t feeling right. He hurt his hamstring in August, shortly after he returned to the team following a curious hiatus from the team as training camp started.

The circumstances were highly unusual. It’s very rare a player doesn’t show up on the injury report but gets ruled out for Sunday’s game. It was all suspicious, and then came the surprising news about Gordon’s release. The report by Cabot that Gordon was “not himself” provides more context, because the Browns were patient with him through a lot of things more serious than a Saturday hamstring injury. In addition, Rapoport said Gordon showed up late on Saturday and the team couldn’t figure out how he hurt his hamstring.

Gordon has been entirely unreliable in his career, and that goes back to his college days. He has played in just 11 games since 2013 due to various transgressions. Most of them involve failed drug tests and NFL suspensions.

In 2013, Gordon led the NFL in receiving. He’s still just 27 years old. That’s why the Browns kept giving him chances. That’s why, even with Gordon’s long and checkered history, teams were immediately calling the Browns asking about a trade.

What’s next for Gordon and Browns?

While we’ll wait to peel the layers back on the entire story, it would be no surprise if Gordon is on another team very soon. A lot of teams have a receiver need — the Dallas Cowboys stand out in that group — and Gordon is enormously talented.

It’s also curious what will happen with the Browns. This might be the path for Dez Bryant to get back in the NFL. The Browns have a significant need at receiver now, and Bryant visited the Browns in August.

For Gordon, whatever team takes a shot on him will be taking the same risks the Browns did through the past few years. He can’t be trusted. But the talent is so tempting.

The Browns couldn’t be patient anymore

Gordon’s entire career with the Browns has been strange, and the past few weeks have been really odd.

Gordon’s season started with him saying he was going to be away from the team at the start of training camp for his “overall health and treatment plan.” The specifics of that were never divulged.

When Gordon did return, he hurt his hamstring. He wasn’t supposed to start in Week 1, and coach Hue Jackson was strangely upset that Gordon ended up starting in a certain personnel package that included him. Gordon still ended up playing 69 snaps and had one of the Browns’ biggest highlights in a long time, an acrobatic 17-yard touchdown pass with 1:58 left to send a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers to overtime. It was a great play for a long-suffering team. The Browns tied that game, their first non-loss since Dec. 24, 2016.

The past few weeks summed up Gordon’s Browns career. His personal demons caused the Browns to have to be patient. When he showed up, there were still issues. But then he showed his rare playmaking ability and it seemed all would be forgiven.

This time, the Browns couldn’t keep sticking it out with Gordon.

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The best signs dragging the Cleveland Browns
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The best signs dragging the Cleveland Browns
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 31, 2017: A sign hangs over a railing in the fourth quarter of a game on December 31, 2017 between the Cleveland Browns Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh won 28-24. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 31, 2017: A fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers holds up a sign in the second quarter of a game on December 31, 2017 against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh won 28-24. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 31, 2017: A fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers holds up a sign in the fourth quarter of a game on December 31, 2017 against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh won 28-24. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 31, 2017: A fan of the Detroit Lions holds up a sign in the fourth quarter of a game on December 31, 2017 between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh won 28-24. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 24: Fans are seen holding a sign during the game between the Chicago Bears and the Cleveland Browns on December 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 17, 2017: A fan of the Cleveland Browns holds up a sign in the fourth quarter of a game on December 17, 2017 against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Baltimore won 27-10. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 17, 2017: A fan of the Cleveland Browns holds up a sign prior to a game on December 17, 2017 against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Baltimore won 27-10. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 17, 2017: Fans of the Cleveland Browns hold up signs prior to a game on December 17, 2017 against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Baltimore won 27-10. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CARSON, CA - DECEMBER 03: A Browns fan holds up a sign that reads, 'It's my birthday. All I want is a Browns win!!' during an NFL game between the Cleveland Browns and the Los Angeles Chargers on December 03, 2017 at StubHub Center in Carson, CA. (Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 12, 2017: A Cleveland Browns fan holds up a sign in the fourth quarter of a game on November 12, 2017 against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won 38-24. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 22, 2017: Cleveland Browns fans hold up a sign prior to a game on October 22, 2017 against the Tennessee Titans at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Tennessee won 12-9 in overtime. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
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Frank Schwabis a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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