April 16 (UPI) — The Cleveland Browns signed four exclusive rights free agents Monday, including wide receiver Josh Gordon.
Cleveland also inked wide receiver Matt Hazel, fullback Danny Vitale and offensive lineman Austin Reiter. As an exclusive rights free agent, Gordon had no choice but to sign for the minimum deal of one year and $790,000.
The 27-year-old will be a restricted free agent in 2019, unless the Browns are able to reach a long-term deal with the blazing-fast pass catcher. Gordon returned to the gridiron in 2017 after a suspension-plagued start to his promising career.
He totaled 335 yards and a touchdown on 18 receptions in five appearances. Gordon was an All-Pro and a Pro Bowl selection in 2013, when he had 87 receptions for a league-high 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns. He had 24 grabs for 303 yards — but failed to score — in 2014, before being suspended for the entire 2015 campaign and the first four games of the 2016 season on violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Gordon was indefinitely suspended in 2016, after briefly being reinstated by the NFL.
Browns coach Hue Jackson commented on Gordon’s offseason activity at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Ind.
“Josh has been great. Josh has been outstanding,” Jackson told reporters. “He’s having a really good offseason. Obviously, he’s got to continue to do so and continue to do the right things, but I truly believe that Josh Gordon is going to have a great year for us.”
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound target was a second round pick by the Browns in the 2012 NFL supplemental draft.
He joins a suddenly star-studded cast of Browns wide receivers in 2018, after Cleveland traded for Miami Dolphins Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry this offseason. The Browns signed the 2017 NFL receptions leader to a five-year, $75.5 million contract extension on April 12.
“When you have a group of guys as talented as Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, Tyrod, Carlos Hyde and the numerous other guys, we are bound to make a splash here,” Landry told reporters after the signing.
Browns players reported to voluntary offseason workouts Monday at the team’s training facility in Berea, Ohio.