WR Josh Gordon Fails Another Drug Test; Faces One-Year Suspension

Cleveland Browns v Carolina Panthers

Browns wide out Josh Gordon is in trouble once again, as Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that the troubled wide out has failed another drug test, and now faces a year long suspension for 2015.

As Schefter reports, things were not good between the Browns and Gordon when 2014 wrapped up.

Gordon ended the season in controversy when, on Dec. 27, he was suspended for the final game for violating team rules. Gordon would have been suspended for all of last season were it not for a new drug testing and punishment policy the NFL implemented last season that allowed him to return after missing the first 10 games.

Gordon entered the NFL after being dismissed from Baylor for a failed marijuana test. He later told the Houston Chronicle: “It was against school policy, of course, and I was [suspended] in the summer. I’ve definitely put that part of my life behind me. I don’t plan to ever go back there. It was a difficult time, but I learned from it, and I’ve moved on.”

The wide out wasn’t much of a factor in the final few games, and ended the year with 24 grabs for 303 yards.

Haslam Says Browns Need To Find a “Really Good” QB to Compete in 2015

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam stressed Thursday night that the Browns are on a mission to find a championship-caliber quarterback and that they have no idea if Johnny Manziel can be their man, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

“Everyone knows this, you can look at the teams whether they’re in the final eight, the final four or the final two, you’ve got to have a really good quarterback,” Haslam said at the 15th annual Great Cleveland Sports Awards at the Renaissance Hotel. “And our situation as Coach (Mike) Pettine says is still muddy and we don’t know who our quarterback is going to be next year and what I would say to our fans is, we’re going to continue to work really hard to find that quarterback who can make us a championship team.”

“I think Pett said it well and I think Flip said it well today, we don’t know yet,” said Haslam. “We’re going to work until we find the right person, and I’m not slighting Connor (Shaw) or Johnny, we have two quarterbacks, or Brian (Hoyer), if he were to come back, I’m not slighting any of them. We’re going to work hard until we get a quarterback who can help us win and win consistently, which we’ve stated since Day 1 is our goal. And it’s not easy, but we understand it’s the mission and we’re going to work hard at it.”

Haslam echoed general manager’s Ray Farmer’s postseason comments that a first-round quarterback is on the table for the second year in a row.

“Yeah…we’ve got to get a quarterback and we’ve got to get it fixed,” said Haslam. “Now that’s not to say Connor, who in the last game played really well, hadn’t worked with the first team any against a really good team on the road, played well and that’s not to say Johnny can’t do it but they both have to prove it that they can do it over a period of time.”

As for Hoyer, he said, “I think every option is open on the table for us in terms of who’s going to play next year.

Browns Lose OC Shanahan and QB Coach Loggins in Offensive Shakeup

Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan sat down with the owner Jimmy Haslam Wednesday after news broke that he wanted out of Cleveland, and Haslam granted his request to be released from his contract, a source told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer Thursday morning.

Quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains, who was in favor of drafting Johnny Manziel, is also leaving, a source confirmed. Alex Marvez of Fox Sports, who first reported Loggains was leaving, said he’s been fired.

As reported Tuesday, Shanahan decided he wanted out of Cleveland because of friction between coaches and the front office. Specifically, some coaches, including Shanahan, felt that the coaches weren’t being heard on player evaluations or needs.

Coaches were also upset that a high-ranking member of the Browns front office text down to the sidelines with opinions on playcalling.

Hoyer with the Upper Hand to Be the Browns Starting QB in 2015

Cleveland Browns v Carolina Panthers

Browns general manager Ray Farmer, who indicated in November that Brian Hoyer’s hometown, feel-good, comeback story won’t factor in, stressed that the decision to stay or go will be Hoyer’s, meaning the Browns will make a pitch to keep him, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

“Brian Hoyer did some good things for us this year, and at the end of the day his future is in his hands,” said Farmer. “He has decisions that he needs to make.

“If he wants to be back, that leverage is definitely in his court to make that happen. Assuming that we could agree to that deal, then that opportunity’s available. If we can’t come to that agreement, then he obviously would not be back. There’s a lot of work to be done in that regard.”

Hoyer reiterated what he’s been saying all season: Now that he’s established himself as a starting quarterback, he won’t go quietly to the bench, not here or elsewhere. If the Browns aren’t willing to give him starter’s money — or at least some hefty incentives for starting, he’ll try to find a better gig elsewhere.

“Once you’ve played, you don’t want to sit on the bench,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot going into the decision that I make.”

“From a business perspective, people don’t always see eye to eye,” said Farmer. “Your value for how you see something versus my value of how I see it doesn’t always come together, and that’s how things don’t happen. That’s something probably for Brian’s agent and I to work out. Brian will have, obviously, a lot of input in that. We’ll have the conversations as to how we think Brian can help our roster moving forward in the next upcoming week or so.”

Haslam On the QB Position – “We’ve Got to Figure it Out”

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam admitted Sunday that the Browns might have to find another quarterback to take them to the next level, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

“Clearly quarterback’s an important position in the NFL and we’ve got to figure it out,” said Haslam after the Browns’ 20-10 season-ending loss to the Ravens. “If you look at the Browns and where they’ve struggled, they’ve struggled with the quarterback, so we know that’s a position like others that we’ll have to address. (GM) Ray (Farmer) and his team will go to work on that tonight and tomorrow.”

Asked if he’s ready to say that Johnny Manziel isn’t his quarterback of the future, Haslam said, “That’s a comment for another day, and it’s certainly not a comment I’m going to make. That’s a comment for Ray and Mike to make. But I think they’ve done a good job this year. I think we’re a better team. But we understand. Listen, this is a tough division. Think who’s in the division — the Steelers who have won two Super Bowls in the last eight years.”

Haslam indicated that the other teams have their quarterbacks, and the Browns might still be on the hunt.

“The Ravens have been in the playoffs seven out of eight years, and Cincinnati, depending on what happens, could win the division three years in a row,” he said.

“We’ve got to be able to compete, but if you think we’re 2-4, not good enough, but besides the Cincinnati game, we were in every game, and I think we went toe-to-toe with Baltimore twice, beat Pittsburgh badly once, lost another time, beat Cincinnati badly once and really in our only really disappointing game got blown out two weeks ago.”

Browns Finish Season 7-9 After 20-10 Loss to Ravens

The Browns did everything they could to stop the Ravens from making the postseason, but in the end with a third-string QB it wasn’t enough, as Baltimore beat the Browns 20-10.

The Ravens did enough to overcome a 10-3 deficit entering the fourth quarter, scoring 17 points to send the Browns to their 7 loss in their final 8 games.

Cleveland ends the year at 7-9, a stunning end to a season which started at one point 6-3 following a win on a Thursday night against the Bengals.

Down 10-3 in the fourth quarter, the Ravens kicked a field goal and then took the lead on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Torrey Smith with 7:33 left.

Flacco’s 2-yard TD throw to Kamar Aiken with 3:44 remaining clinched it.

To reach the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years, Baltimore (10-6) needed to beat the Browns (7-9) and have San Diego lose in Kansas City.

That is precisely what happened.

The first part of that equation seemed easy enough, given that the Browns had lost four straight, were starting rookie quarterback Connor Shaw and had dropped 12 of their past 13 against Baltimore.

Shaw was 14-for-28 for 177 yards and one pick. The Browns were without WR Josh Gordon, who was suspended Saturday for missing the teams walkthrough.

Browns Ink QB Tyler Thigpen

The Browns on Tuesday signed QB Tyler Thigpen.

In addition, the club waived FB Ray Agnew and re-signed DL Christian Tupou to the practice squad.

Thigpen is a 6-1, 216-pound veteran in his seventh NFL season out of Coastal Carolina. Originally selected by Minnesota in the seventh round of the 2007 draft, Thigpen has appeared in 29 games, including 12 starts, and has completed 275 of 509 passes for 3,222 yards, 21 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He has appeared in games with Kansas City (2007-09), Miami (2009-10) and Buffalo (2011-12). Thigpen initially signed with the Browns on May, 1, 2014 and was waived on Aug. 12.

Thigpen’s full bio can be found on pages 197-200 of the 2014 Cleveland Browns media guide which can be accessed by clicking here.

Agnew started nine of the 12 games he appeared in. He had two carries for two yards and three receptions for 15 yards.

Browns vs Panthers NFL Week 16 Capsule

BROWNS PANTHERS
SERIES LEADER 3-1
STREAKS   3 of past 4
COACHES VS. OPP. Pettine: 0-0 Rivera: 0-0
LAST WEEK L 30-0 vs. Bengals W 19-17 vs. Buccaneers
LAST GAME 11/28/10: Panthers 23 at Browns 24. Cleveland RB Peyton Hillis rushes for 131 yards & 3 TDs. Browns rookie CB Joe Haden records INT and S Abram Elam has 2 sacks.
LAST GAME AT SITE 10/8/06: Panthers 20, Browns 12. Carolina WR Keyshawn Johnson catches 5 passes for 67 yards & TD. Panthers RB DeShaun Foster rushes for 106 yards.
BROADCAST CBS (1:00 PM ET): Tom McCarthy, Adam Archuleta. SIRIUS: 140 (Cle.), 84 (Car.). XM: 228 (Car.).

STATS

PASSING Manziel (R): 15-27-143-0-2-39.6 Anderson: 65-97-701-5-0-105.2
RUSHING West (R): 153-579-3.8-3 Stewart: 138-636-4.6-3
RECEIVING Hawkins: 58-763-13.2-2 Olsen (TE): 81-960-11.9-6
OFFENSE 336.1 345.3
TAKE/GIVE +7 +1
DEFENSE 359.6 351.5
SACKS Kruger: 10 Addison, Johnson: 6.5
INTs Skrine: 4 Harper: 3
PUNTING Lanning: 44.2 Nortman: 44.5
KICKING Hartley (2013): 107 (41/41 PAT; 22/30 FG) Gano: 106 (28/28 PAT; 26/31 FG)

NOTES

BROWNS: Rookie QB JOHNNY MANZIEL will make 1st career road start. Scored 1st NFL TD in last road game (10-yard run vs. Buf. in Week 13)…Browns are only NFL team with 2 rookies with 500+ rushing yards – RBs TERRANCE WEST (579) & ISAIAH CROWELL (546). Crowell (undrafted) has 4 rush TDs in past 6 & is tied for most among NFL rookies (8). West (Round 3, No. 94 overall) leads team & ranks 2nd among AFC rookies with 579 rush yards…In past 18, WR JOSH GORDON has 107 rec. for 1,904 yards (105.7/game) & 9 TDs. In past 5 vs. NFC, has 480 rec. yards & 2 TDs, incl. 3 100-yard games…S DONTE WHITNER leads team with 92 tackles. Had FF in only meeting (11/10/13 with SF). LB PAUL KRUGER has career-high 10 sacks, incl. 4 in past 4. LB CRAIG ROBERTSON had INT last week. S JIM LEONHARD has INT in 2 of past 3…PANTHERS: QB CAM NEWTON has won 3 of past 4 vs. AFC at home. Has 103.4 rating, 6 pass TDs & 1 rush TD in those 4. Needs 188 pass yards for 4th consecutive 3,000-yard season. QB DEREK ANDERSON has played 6 games & has 105.2 rating (5 TDs, 0 INTs), incl. 2-0 record as starter…RB JONATHAN STEWART has rushed for 313 yards (104.3 per game) & TD in past 3. Rushed for 98 yards & averaged 8.2 yards per carry (12 att.) in only meeting. RB DE ANGELO WILLIAMS needs 154 rush yards to reach 7,000 for career…Among rookies, WR KELVIN BENJAMIN is 2nd with 952 rec. yards, ties for 2nd with 9 rec. TDs & ranks 3rd with 67 catches. TE GREG OLSEN has TD catch in 5 of past 7 vs. AFC. Has 8 TDs in past 11 vs. AFC. Had 10 catches for 110 yards last week, his 2nd consecutive 10-catch game. Has career-high 81 catches & 960 yards…LB LUKE KUECHLY has 39 tackles in 3 games vs. AFC this season & aims for 4th in row vs. AFC with 10+ tackles. Since entering NFL in 2012, leads league with 458 tackles. DE CHARLES JOHNSON has 11.5 sacks in past 18 vs. AFC. Has 6.5 sacks in past 10, incl. 0.5 sack & FF last week. DE MARIO ADDISON has career-high 6.5 sacks, tied with Johnson for team lead.