BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is facing a year-long suspension after a failed drug test, ESPN's "Outside the Lines"reported Friday afternoon.
If Gordon is suspended, it will be for the second time in his three-year NFL career.
"What 'Outside the Lines' is reporting is that he's facing a full-year suspension for a second drug test failure for marijuana use," ESPN's Sal Paolantonio told Channel 3's Dave Chudowsky. "He's appealing the impending suspension. What we know is that the Browns knew about this for a couple of weeks (and) knew about it yesterday when they were drafting in the first round."
Last season, Gordon missed the first two games because of a drug-related suspension but came back with a vengeance and finished the year as the NFL's leader in receiving yards.
Despite playing with three different starting quarterbacks and missing those first two games, Gordon caught 87 passes for a team-record, and NFL-best, 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns. He led the league in receiving yards, yards-per-game (117.6), longest reception (95-yard touchdown against Jacksonville on Dec. 1), and longest touchdown catch.
The loss of Gordon would be a big blow for a player who had high hopes for himself in 2014.
"If not the same, hopefully better," Gordon said of his expectations during mini-camp one week ago. "That's all I can expect to do, just build on what I've already done and wish for the best. It's a great offense, wide-receiver friendly. Receivers in this offense, they lead the league in receptions all the time, so I'm expecting big things.
"I think you can always top it. There's no peak to any potential or with what you've done before say that's as much as you can do. You can always build on top of that."
The Browns have apparently known about the drug test for a couple weeks, which means they were aware of it when they were drafting Thursday.
"In the first round they had the chance to take a wide receiver, Sammy Watkins, and decided to stay principled and true to what they want to do. A lot of people are going to question that," Paolantonio said.
"It's a huge loss for the Browns if he's suspended for the year," Paolantonio said. "(He) led the NFL in receiving yards even after being suspended for two games last season. The bottom line is they scored 19.3 points per game even with the high productivity of Josh Gordon. They've got to find a way to get more production out of the wide receiver position or they're going to struggle again on offense."
In 2013, Gordon went on to set team records for receiving yards in a season, 100-yard receiving games in a season (seven), and had the best two-, three-, and four-game receiving yardage totals in NFL history.
"You're very glad he's wearing the same jersey," Browns coach Mike Pettine said after mini-camp. "He's a special player. I think he's a guy that can change the game, and defensively, you're always going to evaluate the wide outs and if this is a guy we have to double-team.
"He certainly put it on tape last year, and has shown more than a few flashes of it in these three days of that ability. I think that affects a defense. He could have a very low production game if teams are just rolling their coverage to him, but the affect that that has on the rest of the defense, (is) the benefit that you have offensively."
Gordon earned his first invitation to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro status following his second NFL season, which he said provided him with motivation to continue working hard during the offseason in order to build his name on the football field.
"Going to the Pro Bowl, being selected All-Pro, things like that just give you a lot more motivation to show you, you can go out there and do it again, build a career, build a resume and just accolades and good things not only individually, but hopefully, compile wins on top of that for the team," Gordon said.
Gordon was so concerned about the team adding talent to the roster during the offseason that he accompanied several of his teammates on visits to free agents.
"It was actually big," Gordon said. "I was surprised by it, but it was good to have that camaraderie. We never really had that before. Nobody ever really tried to instill that in this group, but hopefully, that brings us all together."
The news is crushing to Browns fans who thought Thursday's draft put the franchise in a position to contend.
"We woke up this morning and walked into this building -- it was the coolest feeling around this football team, and here we are, 12 hours later talking about one of the worst stories to hit this franchise in a long time," Paolantonio said.