On Wednesday the Cleveland Browns traded running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a first round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. While we probably won’t know who came out the winner in this deal for a few years, I’m already calling it: this trade will haunt the Cleveland Browns for years.
When the Browns selected Richardson with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, they thought they had found a player to build their offense around for years to come. To ensure they got Richardson, the Browns traded three draft picks to the Minnesota Vikings in order to move up one spot, from No. 4 to No. 3.
Now the Browns have received what is likely to be a mid to late first-rounder from the Colts in exchange for a guy who could wind up being one of the NFL’s premiere running backs. I simply don’t understand what on Earth Cleveland is thinking.
As a rookie, Richardson rushed for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns, while adding 51 receptions for 367 yards and another score. And he did all of that with two broken ribs, behind a horrible offensive line, with little or no support from the passing game.
Through two weeks in 2013, Richardson had just 105 yards on 31 carries. Clearly head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner were not willing to commit to a grinding running game with Richardson.
Chudzinski and his staff were apparently looking for a more explosive back, but they weren’t willing to give Richardson a chance to prove he could be that guy.
Clearly the Browns are targeting the 2014 NFL Draft to make a big splash. They now have two first-round picks and 10 total picks in the upcoming draft. But there’s no guarantee Cleveland will be able to find the kind of playmakers to make a huge difference on their roster next season.
Meanwhile, Richardson is off to Indianapolis where the Colts are building an absolute offensive juggernaut. With Andrew Luck at quarterback, and Richardson now in the backfield to go along with T.Y. Hilton at receiver, Indianapolis has an incredible group of young talent on offense.
Richardson gives the Colts a young, bruising back who can take pressure off Luck, while also being able to catch the ball out of the backfield. Teams will now have to respect Indy’s rushing attack, which should only serve to open up the team’s already potent pass offense.