Roundtable Reaction: Trent Richardson to the Colts

Is there anything in sport more fun to argue over and discuss then a big acquisition by a team?  Blockbuster trades, ‘The Decision’, free agent signings and all the stuff that gives fans dreams that things are going in the right direction, or nightmares that they’ve fallen apart.  Our Waiver Wire staff is nothing if not opinionated, so it only seems fair we get together and react to the big transactions, and shocking moments, in the world of sports.  Make sure to vote on who won the deal at the end of the post!

The rare football trade!  The Colts receive running back Trent Richardson giving them two of the top three picks in the 2012 draft.  The Cleveland Browns (notably, under new management) receive a first round draft pick in next year’s draft giving them a whopping seven picks through four rounds, and the capability to draft a rookie QB younger than 45.

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Trent Richardson

Greg KaplanIf you say that you saw this trade coming, you’re a terrible liar. There isn’t a person in the world that could have predict a Trent Richardson trade that wasn’t done in a fantasy football league somewhere.

When I wrote my initial reaction to the news, I did my best to understand the move from the Cleveland perspective, while being hugely in favor of the Colts. However, after sleeping on it, I think I finally understand it from both sides.

Clearly, it’s obvious why the Colts did the trade. They’re without Vick Ballard for the rest of the season and didn’t trust Ahmad Bradshaw to carry the load for the remaining 14 games. Richardson is a versatile talent that can be a feature back in Pep Hamilton’s run-heavy offense, as well as provide Andrew Luck with another dynamic talent in the passing game out of the backfield. There wasn’t going to be a player available in the early to mid 20s in next year’s first round, which is probably when their pick will be. They cashed in on a commodity (first round picks) for a need (running back). Am I still worried about their offensive line? Absolutely. But, they weren’t going to get the same kind of talent for their pick along the line. The Browns, for example, wouldn’t trade Joe Thomas for only one first round pick. Lineman have more value than that.

As for the Browns, I get it. Would I like it if I was a Cleveland Browns fan? No, but I do get it. They clearly have one of Jadeveon Clowney or Teddy Bridgewater rated more highly than they do Trent Richardson, and the only way to guarantee getting one of those two in next year’s draft is 1) sucking (mission accomplished) or 2) having enough assets available to trade up (again, mission accomplished). With as many holes the Jacksonville Jaguars have, I do believe they would trade down with the Browns for a top five pick and the Colts first rounder, plus another mid-round pick (say, round three). Also, it’s not as though Trent Richardson was killing it in Cleveland to begin with. He’s battled small, nagging injuries since joining the team and has averaged roughly 3.5 yards-per-carry. For the sake of the 2013 season, there really isn’t that big of a drop off from Richardson to a Willis McGahee. If the new Cleveland management didn’t want to build around a running back, I can understand that. They have their eyes set on one of the top talents in next year’s draft. This, to them, is the only way they can guarantee getting one of those players. What more else is there to say?

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Pete Rynkowski: If I had to pick a winner in this trade I would have to say the Browns.  I don’t know why so many people are freaking out about it, unless you bought a Trent Richardson jersey, of course.  But in my opinion you cannot build a team around a running back.  The Browns were a bad team last year and are a bad team this year.  Taking Richardson third overall was a mistake in my mind because they have so many holes on their team, mostly on the offensive side of the ball.  The only time a running back has every turned around a franchise is when Herschel Walker was traded to Minnesota and Dallas build their whole team into a championship team with those picks.  I don’t think the Browns will be those Cowboys especially because they only got one pick out of it.  But there is every chance that the Browns will have one pick in the top 5 and another in the top 15, that’s a pretty damn good start.

The Colts gained a very good running back and it will depend where they pick in this coming draft before we know if this trade was worth it for them.  I don’t think it will be because I don’t see the Colts making the playoffs and maybe getting a top 15 pick.  I just have a lot of doubts about Richardson.  I don’t think he is as great of a back everyone thinks he is.  He barely broke 1000 yards last year.  I understand the Browns have a decent offensive line but the Colts are probably a little bit worse and have never had a good run blocking team.  In a couple of years however, this could work out well if Richardson continues to improve and stay healthy, I do have some durability concerns about him but time will tell on that.  Andrew Luck is the big winner here for the Colts because having a good running attack, or at least the threat of one can open up the passing game even more.

Overall I am not too thrilled for the Colts right now.  I think the Browns made out better in this deal because they aren’t going anywhere this year, or with Brandon Weeden for that matter.  They could very well get Teddy Bridgewater in the top 3 this year and a very big piece in the top 15.  I like the direction of this new Browns regime.

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This certainly helps the Browns in their quest to "self-slaughter for Bridgewater."

This certainly helps the Browns in their quest to “self-slaughter for Bridgewater.”

Michael Cresci: A football trade!  How damn exciting is it to have a blockbuster deal in week 3 of the No Fun League’s famously trade averse season? The closest we normally get to trade talk is Hard Knocks episodes where Vontae Davis gets a “very sad deer who also sees headlights” look and then tries to call his Grandma mid conversation.  But this is a juicy deal where the Browns new management gets to hit the reset button (again) by hopefully drafting the offense of the future to compliment their young, promising defense.  And the Colts get  a stud, who if healthy, can be a dominant offensive centerpiece when paired with Luck. If I was a Colts fan I love the idea that I’m pretty sure in three years the team is going to have a star QB and a star RB working together.

Here’s the problem for the Colts, both of those positions can only flourish if their offensive line doesn’t resemble a mesh screen in a rain storm and they sacrificed a valuable draft pick (they’re probably not going to finish the year with a great record, in the next 5 weeks they play Seattle, Denver and San Francisco and don’t have many non-Jaguars gimmes left ahead) which could have been used to build an O-line worthy of their burgeoning QB.  In their defense, they invested in left guard Donald Thomas, who’s injured, but the line is still responsible for getting Luck hit more than any other QB.  Short term I don’t actually see this move making them much better and if Richardson isn’t on the team in three years then this was a failure.  But if the Luck/Richardson combo stays in place while the colts shore up their biggest hole they’ll have a pretty impressive foundation. There’s a good chance there isn’t a player in the upcoming draft the Colts could have gotten with as much talent as Richardson, but that certainly isn’t the only aspect of team building.  They have to get creative to actually maximize this deal long term.  Best case in the short term, Richardson improves the running game enough to reduce the hits Luck absorbs.

The Browns are getting slammed in Cleveland for their move but that’s to be expected, Cleveland has very little going for it in terms of sports…and weather…and culture…and, okay I’ll stop.  In the end their trade will be judged based on how well they draft but the move appears to be pretty straightforward.  Brandon Weeden is on the way to a retirement home just a year after being drafted and the new management/coach see a great defense,  and an offense that’s not too shabby outside of QB and a deep draft with a highly touted prospect at their weakest, most valuable, position.  If they end up with Bridgewater, running back will take care of itself.  Plenty of good teams utilize a platoon, now, and we have a ton of evidence that RBs breakdown prematurely.  The Browns win the deal, but this was a decent move for both teams and could be an exciting one if either or both teams make smart moves in the wake of this deal.

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Ryan Mead:  I think the Browns got the best of this trade outright. Mike Lombardi, the new Browns GM wants to make a huge change to the Browns culture. What’s one way to do this you ask? Tank it for Bridgewater. Can you honestly look me in the eye and tell me “We are starting Brian Hoyer at QB and we just traded our star running back and we are truly trying to win games.” You can’t, you just can’t! The Browns want that number one pick, they are rebuilding. We’ve seen this multiple times over the past few years, RG3, Luck, Newton, the reason for this move is so obvious to me. Lombardi knows he doesn’t have a passer and team were just going to put 8 in the box against Richardson all day, why not at least get something for him and reduce your chances of winning even two games at the same time? I say the Browns get the number one pick and with 8 picks in the first 4 rounds this year, this will be a franchise on the upraise next year. Great move by the Browns.

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John Yorke: We all talked about this last night, but I think this gives a chance to voice our opinion a little more, and we all know how much Cresci loves that. Okay, so immediate immediate reactions to this trade: “Holy sh*t Cleveland is dumb. Just last year, you picked this guy 3rd overall!” But I calmed myself down and thought about this a bit more, and the more I think about it, the more I love it. For both teams.

For Cleveland, this is a chance for Mike Lombardi to build the Browns as he sees fit. QB Brandon Weeden and Richardson weren’t his picks, so maybe Lombardi wants to tear it all down and start over. The Browns have an above average defense, and now with 3 extra draft picks in the first 4 rounds next year, they can hope to bring their offense up from “terrible”, to “not so terrible”. Give it some time, and I think Cleveland will be reaping the benefits of this trade.
Although I like this trade for Indianapolis, I don’t like it as much as I did for Cleveland. Vick Ballard just got put on IR, and Ahmad Bradshaw is just waiting to join him. But the running game isn’t what’s stopping Indy from taking the leap to the next tier of NFL talent. It’s their offensive line. Luck was sacked 41 times last year, and pressured/hit approximately 10,000 more than that. They averaged 3.8 yards per rush, which was tied for 4th worst in the league. Richardson averaged 3.6 per rush. So while Richardson is certainly an improvement over Bradshaw, I don’t think Indy addressed their biggest need. And certainly, trading away a first round pick isn’t going to help. But it’s still an upgrade at a very important position, and a bold move for Indy.

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Vinny Ginardi:  I was surprised to see the high number of social media reactions bashing the Browns for making this trade. I think this deal makes perfect sense for both teams. Let me explain.

Why it works for the Colts: It’s obvious. The Colts already have a franchise quarterback with Andrew Luck place – which is the most prized asset in the sport – so why not give him another asset to work with? Trent Richardson is young and full of potential. Pairing Luck and Richardson can give the Colts a dual-threat that is almost a rarity in the sport today. In my opinion a first-round pick might even be too much, but I like the flexibility it gives Indianapolis.

Why it works for the Browns: Love this move for the Browns. Let’s be honest, it’s not like Trent Richardson was transforming that offense. Let’s be even more honest, it’s not like Trent Richardson was even performing well at all. He only rushed for 950 yards in 2012 and 105 so far in 2013. He has a career 3.5 YPC. Is some of that a product of the Browns not having any other options on offense? Sure. But the point is Trent Richardson alone isn’t making Cleveland any better and another season where he might not reach 1000 rushing yards would hurt his value immensely. Running back is by far the most interchangeable position in football, so getting a first round pick in return for a running back not named Adrian Peterson is a steal. Don’t believe me?

Last season, of the top 10 rushers in the NFL, only two (Adrian Peterson and C.J. Spiller) were players that were taken with a top 10 overall pick, four (Alfred Morris, Jamaal Charles, Stevan Ridley, and Frank Gore) were taken in the third round or later and one (Arian Foster) wasn’t even drafted.  Richardson, by the way, was the league’s 18thleading rushing.

The last five running backs, outside of Richardson, drafted with a top five pick? Darren McFadden, Reggie Bush, Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, and Cadillac Williams. Not one of those selections turned into a star player. The Browns mistake wasn’t trading Trent Richardson for a first round pick, it was drafting him at third overall in the first place. A running back, once again excluding Adrian Peterson, isn’t going to turn a franchise around. Could Richardson turn into a star? Sure. But the risk far outweighs the reward, especially given the short shelf life of running backs. It’s a passing league, and running backs are becoming increasingly less valuable each year.

For the future, this gives the Browns a likely top five pick (their own) and a pick likely to fall somewhere in the 16 to 24 range (Indy’s) for the 2014 draft.  That’s a good place to start for a team that, at 0-2, was going nowhere in 2013.

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Sound off on the trade in the comment section and vote to share you opinion on the deal!