BEREA — While Josh Gordon’s away, the Browns may launch Plan B with their wide receivers.
Dez Bryant is on their radar.
As they await clarity on Gordon’s cloudy situation, Cleveland general manager John Dorsey said Wednesday the team has discussed signing Bryant, the former Dallas star released by the Cowboys in April.
Gordon is missing the start of training camp as part of his treatment to battle drug and alcohol addictions, and the team does not known when — or if — the 27-year-old will be back.
Dorsey said he “absolutely” expects Gordon to return in 2018.
“I’m going to respect Josh’s privacy and I will continue to say that and let him do what he has to do moving forward,” Dorsey said. “Then, when he comes back, we’ll embrace him, that’s how we’re going to do it.”
In the meantime, the Browns have interest in Bryant, a three-time Pro Bowler and one of the game’s top playmakers since 2010.
“He’s a very talented player,” Dorsey said. “Have we had discussions about Dez Bryant? Yeah, that’s natural. You’re going to have discussions like that. Now, we’ll see what comes to fruition in the next couple days, but we’ve talked about it. You have to talk about these things.”
Especially given Gordon’s track record.
Despite his numerous missteps, the Browns are standing by the talented receiver. They believe Gordon has turned his life around and are counting on the former Pro Bowler, who has played just 10 games since 2013 due to numerous NFL drug violations, to help this season.
Dorsey doesn’t know when Gordon will return, and the club changed his roster designation from the non-football illness list to “did not report” so it would have roster flexibility.
“Josh is 100 percent committed to the Cleveland Browns,” Dorsey said. “The Cleveland Browns are 100 percent committed to him. He’s had a great offseason. He’s had great training. So you know what, let’s just see what happens here. Let’s see what happens. All I care about is let’s respect his privacy. Let’s see him move forward.”
An NFL spokesman said earlier this week that Gordon has not been suspended again, and that there is no timetable on his return.
However, both Dorsey and coach Hue Jackson refused to answer whether they’ve received assurances from the league that Gordon is not facing further discipline.
On the eve of his third training camp, Jackson, who has not spoken with Gordon, wanted the focus on his available players.
“Obviously we’d like to have all of our players here. But at the same time we know things do come up,” he said. “And I think as a staff we prepared for anything and everything. I think in my going on three years here I’ve seen it all. So I’m not surprised by anything that can happen. I think if we make it more than what it is.
“You’re talking about a young man that’s doing everything he can to put himself in the best position to be better in his life. And I think that’s great for Josh. At the same time we have a football team to get ready, and that’s what we’re going to do. All we can really worry about are the guys that are here and coach the guys that are here and get them better — —and when Josh is ready to return he’ll return.”
With Gordon’s status unclear, Dorsey said the team is considering Bryant, who is looking for a fresh start.
The 29-year-old developed into one of the league’s most physical receivers during eight seasons with Dallas. He had three seasons of more than 1,200 yards receiving and led the NFL with 16 touchdowns in 2014.
However, he came up short of living up to the five-year, $70 million contract he signed four years ago. Bryant battled an assortment of injuries before the Cowboys let him go to gain salary-cap space.
Bryant has had some off-field issues, though nothing to Gordon’s level, and his fiery temperament led to some well-publicized sideline rants. But with Cleveland’s receiving corps reduced by Gordon’s absence and a season-ending neck injury to Ricardo Louis, the Browns may be willing to overlook any baggage.
“I look at Dez as a very competitive, passionate person,” said Dorsey, who has known Bryant for years. “That’s how I look at a Dez Bryant.”