Trent Richardson to the Colts…
Trent Richardson has been traded to the Indianapolis Colts for Indianapolis’ 2014 first-round pick in what is a season-defining trade on both ends. Cleveland fans let out a unified groan of disapproval and Colts fans talk of their Super Bowl aspirations, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves in either camp.
Things are just beginning to play out and while Browns fans scream to the heavens asking for the football gods to have mercy on their fandom, Cleveland isn’t as bad off as what it seems, yet, you can’t help but feel for a fan base who must watch the Browns constantly rebuild. Indianapolis, on the other hand, adds an intriguing piece to an already young, and potentially potent offensive attack.
First of all, in Indianapolis…
Following the loss of running back Vick Ballard to a season-ending knee injury, the Colts front office said they would be scouring the NFL for a possible trade partner, and in turn, a new running back. While veteran Ahmad Bradshaw still possesses running ability, his chronic foot injuries aren’t exactly a good thing for… you know… running backs… who run… with their feet. While I personally thought Indianapolis would be going after intriguing backup talent like Robert Turbin in Seattle, Ben Tate in Houston or any of the running backs in Carolina, I never thought they would go after and subsequently land a player like Trent Richardson. Richardson is a workhorse back who was drafted 4th overall in 2012. The second-year pro set a record for rushing touchdowns as a rookie and did all of it while fighting a multitude of injuries that clearly limited his effectiveness at times. Richardson managed this even though opposing teams knew, then rookie, quarterback Brandon Weeden couldn’t beat them.
Richardson possesses the physical traits of a game-changing running back. He isn’t exceptionally quick or fast, but he has an unique combination of power and speed that could allow him to blossom into a great, if not elite, player. He won’t ever reach Adrian Peterson’s level, but Richardson is a major improvement from Bradshaw and Ballard. Combined with Andrew Luck, the first draft pick from the same 2012 draft, and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, a third-rounder from 2012, there are the makings of a great offense. All three are 24 years old or younger, so the future is certainly bright. Richardson provides Indianapolis with a run game that was desperately needed and should be effective for years to come, only making Andrew Luck’s future even brighter in the process.
I still don’t think they make the playoffs this season, due primarily to their defense, but they are certainly improved from this deal.
Poor, poor Cleveland…
You have to feel for Browns’ fans.
Year after year, the Browns not only struggle to win, but then offseason after offseason, they start anew with a new plan to rebuild.
A new quarterback, a new coach, a new general manager and then it all begins again.
Optimism. Hope. Reality. Sorrow.
The lifespan of a Browns fan.
Now, it isn’t all bad though. With the trade, Cleveland is handed a first-round pick in 2014 and by trading their best offensive player, they also practically guarantee a solid top-five pick themselves. That means they will have a top-five pick and the Colts’ pick that will probably fall around 18-22.
Cleveland takes a franchise quarterback with their first, because Weeden clearly isn’t in the cards if the Browns are beginning another overhaul, and takes a playmaker with the Colts pick. Maybe a top receiving prospect, or they use their first on Jadeveon Clowney and take any of the top quarterbacks (Teddy Bridgewater, Brett Hundley, Johnny Manziel…etc.) with the second pick. They also possess a second-rounder, that figures to be early, and two third-round picks. Plenty of picks to make something interesting happen and walk away from the draft with the building blocks of a successful franchise.
On top of that, Trent Richardson, while young and talented, didn’t fit what head coach Rod Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner were trying to do there. Richardson is a workhorse back and Cleveland is looking for someone a little shiftier, maybe a little more versatile. After all, this Browns front office isn’t the same office that took Richardson in 2012 anyway.
Now how this all plays out ultimately will depend on if Richardson, already considered a injury risk, is able to stay healthy for Indianapolis and the success of Cleveland’s draft in April. While both teams could benefit and win from this big-name, big-time trade, the losers right now are the Browns fans, who after two weeks of the 2013 season must accept that their beloved team is once again blowing up the roster with a new plan in place. A season that actually began with hope just crashed and burned in Cleveland and the fans can only place that hope on April’s draft and wait for a new season.