BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Josh Gordon emerged from the other side of the trading deadline exactly where he wanted.
After all the talk, all the rumors, all the "noise," Cleveland is still his NFL home. And now that he's staying with the Browns, Gordon is determined to become an elite wide receiver.
He may be one already.
"I plan on playing like that and practicing like that until I can't do it anymore," Gordon said Wednesday. "That's what I'm striving for, to be one of the best."
Those words were surely soothing to the Browns' front office, which listened to trade offers for the talented 22-year-old with a troubling track record up until Tuesday's deadline. Cleveland, though, never got a deal suitable enough to deal Gordon, who for weeks seemed destined for somewhere else.
Gordon never wanted to leave, and he's thrilled that he's not going anywhere.
"I'm definitely relieved," he said before practice. "I wanted to stay here. I didn't feel like uprooting myself and moving and starting all over again. I feel as though we have a lot to prove out here and a lot to build on in this offensive program, and I want to say I can at least be one of the guys that helps get it started."
Gordon hasn't needed long to become arguably Cleveland's best player. He's among the league leaders in several offensive categories, averaging 97 yards receiving per game and 18.2 yards per catch. In five games — he was suspended for the first two for failing the NFL's substance-abuse policy — he has 32 catches for 582 yards and three touchdowns. All eight of his career TDs have been at least 20 yards long.
Gordon is on a path to superstardom, and it would be hard to imagine the Browns' offense without him. No wonder Rob Chudzinski smiled when asked if he, too, was relieved Gordon was still around.
"I'm excited Josh is part of our team," Chudzinski said. "He's here. I like the progress he's made as a player and the strides that he's made and looking forward to continued improvement on his part. We want him here — and he's here."
Gordon said he doesn't hold any resentment toward the Browns for considering a trade. He understands the business side of football and he's savvy enough to know that no player is untouchable.
Gordon also realizes his off-the-field problems have marked him. His missteps at Baylor and Utah were followed by a failed drug test earlier this year. Gordon flunked because he said he was taking a cough syrup containing codeine, which is on the league's banned list. Gordon's said it's his understanding that another slipup will result in a minimum one-year ban.