BEREA, Ohio - Already dealing with cornerbacks, double coverage and defences targeting him, Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has spent the past month trying to shake free from trade rumours.
It's been exhausting.
"I'm tired of it," Gordon said.
With Tuesday's NFL trade deadline approaching, Gordon remains the subject of speculation that won't go away. The talented second-year receiver with All-Pro potential has become a coveted commodity, and as he prepares for Sunday's game at Kansas City, Gordon doesn't know if it will be his final one with the Browns (3-4).
"I honestly wish if it was going to happen, I wish it would happen already instead of dragging on," he said. "If a trade offer came in and that's what the Browns want to do, so be it. If not, then let it be known this is where I'm going to be. It's part of the game. I'm dealing with it."
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski has insisted the Browns won't trade Gordon. CEO Joe Banner recently said he would be "completely shocked" if the Browns traded the 22-year-old, but the team has continued to receive offers for Gordon, who has 27 catches for 450 yards and two touchdowns in five games.
Cleveland's trade of running back Trent Richardson last month to Indianapolis for a first-round pick underscored the team's willingness to build for the future, and Gordon understands he might not be a part of it.
"Ultimately it's up to Joe Banner and (owner) Jimmy Haslam and the guys up top, but I do feel comforted in my head coach wants me to be here," Gordon said. "But the reality of it is anybody can make a deal and they're saying they're open to listening to people, so anything can happen."
Gordon's off-field issues could play a role in whether he stays in Cleveland.
He was suspended for the first two games this season for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, and it's his understanding that another failed drug test could result in a one-year suspension. Gordon's checkered past could prompt the Browns to move him before he makes another mistake. But his background may make teams leery of taking a chance on him.
It appears to be a gamble either way. Also, there have been questions about Gordon's commitment and whether he always gives 100 per cent effort. Last week in Green Bay, Gordon had just two catches for 21 yards and his performance included a mistimed jump on a 4th-and-15 play when he failed to extend his arms and had the ball knocked away by a Packers defender.
Gordon's body language wasn't good, and it may have been because the trade talk had affected his play.
"I would think it would bother him," said running back Willis McGahee. "From what I've seen, I think he wants to be here. I'm hoping he wants to be here. When you hear you're about to get traded your spirits change a little bit, but the only thing I can tell him is that it's a business and anybody is expendable. Just got out and do your job. Do what you do. Don't let people see you all bent out of shape and things like that."
McGahee, who signed with Cleveland last month following the Richardson trade, said Gordon would benefit from having a veteran player to mentor him. He's confident that at some point Gordon will mature into a dependable professional.
"Everybody gets it. It just depends on when," McGahee said. "I didn't get it until my fourth or fifth year. And I was like, 'All right, I've got to start eating right and got to start doing this.' That's part of life. That's part of growing. He has the talent. You can see it in him. He's going to put it together in a minute."
Browns offensive co-ordinator Norv Turner doesn't doubt that Gordon has been giving his all. He knows there may be times when it appears the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder is coasting, but it's not because he's not trying.
"Everyone wants Josh to be the Josh when he's at his best. I do, Josh does, everyone does," Turner said. "I've been with young receivers and I don't know that that's realistic. He's working hard. Josh is making great progress and the young receivers that I've been around, it's in the third or fourth year when you start seeing all of those things happen."
It remains to be seen if they'll happen for Gordon in Cleveland.
NOTES: Browns defensive co-ordinator Ray Horton predicted that his unit, which has given up 62 points in the past two games, will bounce back. "I know what my vision is and where we're at on the field and in the classroom," he said. "I just think you'll see a different Cleveland Browns defence moving forward." ... McGahee did not practice, as routine maintenance for his knees. ... RT Mitchell Schwartz is excited about playing against his big brother, Geoff, an offensive lineman for the Chiefs. "We'll never face each other, so it's not like a weird thing where one of us has to block each other," said Schwartz, adding his mom has a jersey that's half Browns, half Chiefs.