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Sam Darnold says he won’t stay at USC just to avoid Browns

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon will make his NFL return against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 13.

Before the start of the 2017 season, USC quarterback Sam Darnold said that no team should tank in order to get the top pick and guarantee themselves a chance to draft him next April.

It doesn’t appear any team has done that, which would have been a dicey proposition for reasons that include Darnold’s remaining eligibility at the NCAA level. Albert Breer of touched on that in a radio interview early this month when he reported that Darnold was expected to wait to make a decision until he knew which teams would be picking at the top of the draft.

The Browns’ 0-11 record has them on the inside track for the first overall pick and Breer said Darnold could stay in L.A. if that’s how things play out. On Monday, Darnold denied he wants to avoid Cleveland.

“I didn’t say anything about the Browns,” Darnold said, via the Orange County Register. “I’ve never said anything bad about a team. They know I would never say anything.”

There are plenty of reasons why Darnold might opt to stay at USC for a third season as the school’s starting quarterback. If the Browns do have the first overall pick and he makes that choice, there will be plenty of people connecting the dots regardless of how Darnold explains his decision.