Reports have been released that the San Francisco 49ers have been engaged in talks with the Cleveland Browns about a trade to acquire wide receiver Josh Gordon. Adam Schefter of ESPN said that the talks have taken place but it is unlikely that the 49ers will make the trade happen because they have some reinforcements on the way.
Some have suggested that the 49ers acquire any of the available receivers including Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt and even Terrell Owens. The idea of bringing in Owens is far fetched at best. Owens is one of my favorite receivers of all time but let’s be real, the game has passed him by.
Britt and Nicks are both solid receivers but will each be looking to cash in on new deals after the season. Nicks has been productive but has missed significant time due to injury over his career. Britt has also been injured frequently as well but he has also had his share of off the field issues. Neither of them would be a wise acquisition. That leads us to the ONE trade option that would make sense, Josh Gordon.
The 49ers are definitely in need of help at the wide receiver position. Most of Colin Kaepernick’s completions have been to Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis. Kyle Williams has not seen many targets and is better suited as a slot receiver. Jonathan Baldwin is a big bodied receiver that has seen action in the last two games but has only recorded two receptions. Kaepernick did take two deep shots to Baldwin in the game against the Houston Texans.
I spoke to both Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree after the Texans game. Manningham was very excited to talk to me about the idea of him coming back. He told me that he will be ready to practice soon and mentioned the bye week as when he thinks that he would be fully ready to go. He has been doing sprint workouts on a side field while the 49ers practice.
The casual fan may say that Manningham is not dominant and will not see the value in his return. The value that he brings is how he stretches the field and takes the top off of defenses. He has a career average of 13.7 yards per reception. More importantly, he is a player that shows up in big games and is good for at least one big play in those contests. Look at the NFC Championship against the 49ers and the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots as examples.
The value of Michael Crabtree is obvious to everyone. He is not expected back until mid November at best as per Jim Harbaugh in his press conference on Monday afternoon. I walked off of the field with Crabtree and he walked without any signs of a hitch or favoring his achilles. He told me that he has been able to run and in his words, he said; “I’m good.”
Gordon is a big wide receiver that would give the 49ers a viable down field threat and someone to help out Boldin. Amazingly, Boldin has accounted for 67% of the catches by wide receivers and 78% of the yards by wide receivers. The Browns acquired Gordon in the supplemental draft with a second round pick. That is why it would be tough to imagine them not wanting at least a second round pick in exchange for Gordon. Ironically, Mike Lombardi is on record as having said that Gordon was a waste of a second round pick. This was while he was an insider for the NFL Network. Soon after news broke that Lombardi had been hired as the team’s vice president of player personnel, rookie receiver Josh Gordon tweeted: “Uh oh. Am I in trouble?” Gordon has said that Head Coach Rob Chudzinski texted him to assure the wide receiver that he won’t be traded.
Trading for Gordon is the one deal for a wide receiver that would make sense. I support this idea because doing so would be more than just a deal for now. Gordon is only 22 years old and has plenty of potential. He would give them insurance if Boldin either retires or decides to sign elsewhere after the season. Financially, picking up Gordon makes too much sense. He is under contract until after 2015 season and his deal can not be touched until then. Gordon would only count for $1.45 million against the cap in 2014 and $1.69 million in 2015. Yes, he does have one strike on him because of a failed drug test but he still is worth the risk.
I would be willing to give up a second and a fifth round pick for Gordon if I were the 49ers. The Kansas City Chiefs are very likely to win eight games which will turn the pick in the Alex Smith trade into a second round pick. Additionally, the 49ers will have three third round picks which is comprised of their own pick, a compensatory pick and the third round pick that they got from the Tennessee Titans in a draft day deal. They have the flexibility to give up both a second and fifth round pick. Unfortunately, as Pro Football Central reported earlier, the 49ers may not be willing to give up a second round pick in this trade.
Acquiring Gordon will take some time before making an impact this year. He and Kaepernick will need to work to get on the same page as far as reading what defenses are doing and converting routes on the fly. Additionally, Gordon will be learning a brand new offense. Fortunately, he already has some experience learning a new offense on the go from his late arrival to the Browns going into his rookie season. This is the one deal that would make sense for the 49ers. The other ideas of bringing in Britt, Nicks and Terrell Owens are pipe dreams.