The Cleveland Browns may be searching for a replacement for troubled wide receiver Josh Gordon.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network and NFL.com reported late Thursday morning that a workout bonus has caused an even greater divide to separate the Houston Texans and star wide receiver Andre Johnson. It had been reported since the winter months that Johnson was eying a move from the Texans because he did not want to be part of yet another rebuilding project.
The Texans have not been keen on trading Johnson, to the point that some have speculated that Houston could allow the wide receiver to sit out for up to an entire NFL season.
Rapoport has also reported that four different teams have reached out to the Texans regarding possible trade scenarios. While none of those teams are mentioned in the Rapoport NFL.com piece, it is believed by more than a few insiders that the New England Patriots are one of the clubs interested in Johnson.
The Browns have, as they were back in May, also been linked with Johnson.
It is, as time goes on, looking more and more as if the Browns are going to need a true No. 1 wide receiver for at least some portion of the 2014 NFL regular season. Less than 24 hours after Cleveland selected both cornerback Justin Gilbert and quarterback Johnny Manziel in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, news broke via ESPN's Outside the Lines that the previously mentioned Gordon was staring at an indefinite suspension that would last at least twelve months due to a failed drug test, allegedly for marijuana.
Gordon is believed to be in Stage Three of the NFL's Substance-Abuse Program.
Little could anybody have imagined back on May 9 that the Gordon drama was only unfolding. Gordon was ticketed for speeding over Memorial Day weekend, and it was reported that one of the passengers in his vehicle was cited for possession of marijuana.
But wait. There's more. Gordon was arrested on DWI charges over July 4 weekend. It has since been speculated that the charge could be reduced, possibly to careless driving.
Neither the NFL nor the Browns have offered any worthwhile comments on Gordon's immediate future. Whether or not Gordon could face any additional punishment from the league for the DWI incident is not known as of the posting of this piece, but it is a notion that shouldn't be ruled out considering how other similar situations have been frowned upon by NFL commissioner.
Gordon, who turned 23-years old this past April, appears to have the goods to become a legitimate superstar sooner than later. He went for 87 grabs, nine receiving touchdowns and 1,646 receiving yards during the 2013 season. Gordon had over 200 receiving yards in back-to-back regular season contests last fall.
His talent aside, Gordon is worth little to the Browns if he is unable to play.
Johnson will turn 33-years old tomorrow (July 11), but all indications are that he has at least a few very good seasons left in the tank. Johnson had 109 catches, 1,407 receiving yards and five touchdown grabs last season while playing for what was the worst team in the NFL.
Say, for argument's sake, that Johnson manages to either break the Texans through a holdout or to persuade Houston to make a deal. The Texans could be looking to land as high as a second round selection for the veteran wide receiver.
It was widely reported last October that the Browns were looking for the same compensation for Gordon, who was reportedly on the table up until the end of the trade deadline.
Zac has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and the NFL since 2006. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Zac on Twitter.