This week the Cleveland Browns shocked the NFL world when it traded away running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2014 first-round draft pick. Many believe it was a sign the team has already written off its 2013 season and is looking ahead to next year.
A quick look at the trade would leave some people believing this is a win situation for the Colts and Richardson but a closer review shows more than this. Here’s winners and losers from the trade.
Trent Richardson: Richardson goes from an 0-2 Browns team to a playoff-contending team under Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. This is a trade up for the player and puts him in a situation to succeed in 2013. He could see his play improve from a better quarterback and his stock could rise to make him a top running back as many believe he has the talent to do so.
Look for him to play on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
Andrew Luck: Luck has gained a nice new weapon in an offense that has been depleted by injury. After seeing running back Vick Ballard and tight end Dwayne Allen go down for the season, there was a job opening to fill. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw can’t do it all and now Luck has some more depth. This will help balance the Colts offense that was going to rely on its wide receivers including Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and tight end Coby Fleener.
So what does Luck get? A running back that had 267 carries for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns in his rookie season as well as 51 receptions. From 2013’s two games, Richardson has 105 rushing yards and 51 yards receiving. These numbers should rise and Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton should be excited about the potential for his running game.
Willis McGahee: Unemployed running back McGahee was immediately signed by the Browns and will hit the ground running this week as the team’s top back. He joins fellow running back sophomore Bobby Rainey who is yet to either be a target or have a carry in 2013. Fullback Chris Ogbonnaya may get some third down action but McGahee, 31, should be the top dog.
Browns: The team now has two first-round draft picks for 2014. With Weeden appearing less than impressive, look for the team to draft a quarterback in the first round. Will it be Johnny Manziel? Teddy Bridgewater? In the end, the Browns could end up with a better player than Richardson.
Ahmad Bradshaw: Bradshaw jumped into the top spot after Ballard got injured. Last week against the Miami Dolphins, he ran for 65 yards and a touchdown; he also caught three passes for 19 yards. Will he return to the bench in place of Richardson?
Browns quarterbacks: The Browns have a bit of a quarterback dilemma and whether its Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell or Brian Hoyer (this week he has the starting role), they’ll have to take more of the offensive load now that Richardson is gone. Will McGahee be able to step up or do the Broncos know something the Browns don’t know?
Colts: Some think Richardson has been a bit of a bust. His 950 yards came from a 3.6 yards per attempt. He’s had problems with pass protection; he’s injury prone and his work ethic isn’t anything to write home about. Maybe the Colts will learn Richardson is who the Browns thought he was: in their view, a disappointment.
But at the end of the day, a winner and loser won’t really emerge until April 2014 when we see who the Browns draft and how Richardson fared in 2013 with the Colts.