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Josh Gordon is an exclusive rights free agent. What is that?

The Browns will have Gordon in 2018, unless he just decides to not play.

Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns have officially tendered Josh Gordon as an exclusive rights free agent for the 2018 league year, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

This makes Gordon’s offseason pretty simple, and lacking choices.

As NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling mentions, there’s nothing “free” about Gordon’s exclusive rights free agency. “The Browns maintain exclusive rights,” Wesseling writes, “Which means the former Baylor star cannot negotiate with other teams. Once Cleveland tenders a qualifying offer, Gordon’s options are limited to signing the tender or sitting out yet another season.”

The move is hardly a surprise — Hue Jackson said at the NFL Combine that they’ll tender Gordon:

So what’s an ERFA?

Over The Cap has definitions for the various types of free agents. This is how they explain the ERFA:

These are the players with 2 or less seasons in the league, a status reserved almost solely for undrafted rookie type players. Once tendered they can only negotiate with their former team. The tender offer is only a one year non-guaranteed contract at the minimum salary level so most teams would use the ERFA designation on players who were on the roster late in the prior year and signed to a 1 year deal. Usually these offers are signed as soon as they are made since nothing is gained by waiting.

So basically, Gordon has less rights than a restricted free agent.

He’s missed a lot of time since the end of his second NFL season in 2013. He played five games in 2014, and missed both the 2015 and 2016 seasons. He was reinstated and played five games in 2017, where he had 18 receptions for 335 yards and a touchdown.

He’s set to earn $790,000 this season.

So when can he hit unrestricted free agency?

Because of his suspensions for the violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, he can’t hit unrestricted free agency until after the 2020 season.

The Browns will have Gordon under contract for 2018 at a good price, can match any offers in 2019, and only really have to worry about him in 2020 if they haven’t extended him by then.