There have been no Michael Lombardi sightings for a long time and just a few Joe Banner public appearances.
That must mean something big is about to happen soon. Like maybe before the NFL trade deadline, which is Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. EDT.
According to multiple reports, Lombardi, the Browns general manager, and CEO Banner are shopping receiver Josh Gordon. Adam Schefter of ESPN tweeted that the Browns are contemplating two standing offers.
It's apparent that the Browns are trying to own the 2014 NFL draft. They currently have two first-round picks - one received from the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for running back Trent Richardson - along with one in the second and two in both the third and fourth rounds.
Getting possibly another first-round pick for Gordon would put the Browns in the enviable position of having eight selections in the first four rounds. I want to say there's no way the Browns could mess up that situation, but, then again, this is a franchise that has had Dwight Clark, Butch Davis, Phil Savage and Eric Mangini calling the shots.
The decision on Gordon is in a way more important than how the organization deals with quarterback Brandon Weeden the rest of this season. A quarterback will be drafted in 2014, probably with one of the first-round picks. He'll likely watch Brian Hoyer start the season, while Weeden will probably be in another team's camp.
The front office took a huge public relations hit in the immediate aftermath of the Richardson trade. Teams rarely make trades two weeks into a season, and it almost never involves a first-round choice (third overall) from the previous year.
Dealing Gordon would anger the fan base to a greater extent. It's clear to anyone with at least minor knowledge of football that Gordon is more valuable than was Richardson. Gordon brings plenty of offseason baggage, and his level of effort isn't always good, but his immense skills are undeniable.
With maximum effort Gordon has a chance to become a perennial Pro Bowl player. That's assuming he taps fully into his reservoir of talent and has a skilled quarterback that can deliver him the ball.
This is a tough call. Do you risk trading a player that could turn into one of the elites at his position for years to come, or do you get the most you can for him, knowing it could be a matter of time before off-the-field problems catch up to him?
The speculation is that teams are offering a second-round pick and perhaps a player. The Browns would obviously prefer another first-round pick.
There comes a time when a team can trade away too many pieces in an attempt to load up on draft choices. The Browns aren't close to the point because it's becoming more apparent each week that Richardson is vastly overrated. A running back can be found in the middle rounds of next year's draft and provide what Richardson did with his high-valued contract.
Lombardi and Banner know what makes Gordon tick. They have to decide if there's any hope that he'll change or if it's simply a matter of time before it's time to cut ties.
If there's even the slightest bit of concern about the direction Gordon is headed, take a second-round pick and move on.