Last night we shared some of the multitude of reactions from around Twitter following the Trent Richardson trade. Today we look at the trade from multiple angles including the Front Office, Coaching Staff, Fans, the Future, the Colts, Richardson, On the Field and the Factory of Sadness.
The new front office, headed up by Joe Banner and GM Mike Lombardi, made a statement yesterday. They announced that they will make whatever decision they think is best for the team. Trading last year’s #3 overall pick, almost no matter what the return, is an extreme decision. They also showed that they do not believe in the talent evaluations made by the Tom Heckert regime. While many nationally thought the Browns had the making of a solid offense with Richardson at RB, Josh Gordon at WR and a solid offensive line, it is obvious the front office thought otherwise. Banner and Lombardi spent all of their off-season money and attention on the defense instead of giving the Browns a veteran WR, RB and guard to “finish” the building of the other side of the ball. The front office is looking to build for the future and show no concern for the public relations fall out from Browns fans.
We have noted here at FoS the lack of playing time for Richardson this year so far. He was routinely taken off the field during 3rd downs and used sparingly in the 3rd and 4th quarters of the 2 close games. It was seen as poor personnel decision making, yet it now looks like the coaching staff did not believe in Richardson’s talent. HC Rob Chudzinski, as a first time coach, has to be looking to win games now as well hoping for a long term future. While a front office is more able to ride out a “lost” season, coaches don’t have the same benefit of the doubt. If the coaches didn’t see Richardson as the dynamic playmaker many expected and hoped of Richardson then trading him makes sense.
As a Browns writer I was contacted by a number of fans; some passionate, some a little less dedicated. They all were confused, frustrated and tired of continual rebuilding process. How do you give up on a season so early? How do you trade away your best offensive player? How can you continue to ask us to be patient? Why should we pay for tickets and support the team? I will present a fans perspective later today in more detail as well.
This trade was about the future. The Browns traded their #1 running back, and the #3 overall pick from 2012, to get another first round pick. If, as expected, Brandon Weeden is either off the team next year or the backup, both of the Browns first round picks from 2012 will be unused by the team by 2014. The Browns will now be looking to define the offensive side of the ball in the 2014 draft and free agency. Expect the team to use their first round pick, probably very high in the draft, for one of the “franchise” QBs that could come out. It is possible, depending on how many games they win, that they will have to trade both of their #1 picks to trade up to get the QB they want. The FO also traded for extra 3rd and 4th rounders during the 2013 draft for added ammunition. We will share a analysis of one of those QBs, Teddy Bridgewater, this week. Expect big free agent signings to go along with a big draft this up coming year to try to reengage the fan base and start the turn around quickly.
The Colts made an aggressive move to attempt to take advantage of a weak AFC. The Colts have a great young QB, a solid veteran WR, a solid young WR, 2 solid young TEs (1 being out for this year) and now have added a young RB. They have built their team around a young talented skill players. The biggest issue for the Colts getting Richardson going, same as with the Browns, is their offensive line. Richardson struggled in Cleveland as he was hit behind the line and couldn’t find the holes when they were available. With Andrew Luck the Colts have a passing game that will keep the defenses more honest then the Browns could. The Colts first round pick will most likely be in the late teens or early 20s if they respond the way they are hoping. Unlike trades often seen in MLB this trade was for a 2nd year player who happens to have huge upside and potential. The Colts have to hope that Richardson is more like the Alabama version then the Cleveland one.
Richardson has not shown himself to be a top flight RB so far in Cleveland. While blame can be placed on the QB, offensive line and playcalling, Richardson has still struggled to find and hit holes regularly, check @brendanleister on Twitter for some photos of such. The Browns did not trust him in pass protection, pulling him often on third downs. This trade may inspire Richardson. Richardson may have been unhappy in Cleveland and this could release him from his unhappiness. Having Luck at the QB position will take pressure off of him to carry the team. His injury history is the most problematic issue. Nick Saban tends to run his backs into the ground in college which could of led to many of the injuries that he has had so far. If Richardson is able to stay healthy and be a 1000 yard rusher every year this will be a good deal for Indy. If he continually gets injured, can’t find the hole and get frustrated by lack of touches because of Luck then the Colts will have a big decision when Richardson becomes a free agent.
On The Field
While Richardson’s talent is undeniable, his production is a fact. He has not performed as expected for a high first round pick. On the field the Browns may be replacing him with Willis McGahee. Like Weeden, Brian Hoyer and Jason Campbell, McGahee or Bobby Rainey are not long term for that position. Its possible with Rainey the Browns will open up with more screens, draws and outside runs to take advantage of his speed. Hoyer can expect to be under pressure often now with no established running game. Because of the pressure expect Hoyer to look to his hot or check down receivers, if available, often. This year may be a “lost” year so how the uber talented defense responds to game after game of losing will be interesting to watch. How younger, possibly immature, players such as Josh Gordon and Greg Little respond to a limited offense could be a huge problem.
Factory of Sadness
For fans, for the city and in the national media it seems the Browns continue to just be a Factory of Sadness. This trade however is greatly different then how the team has worked in the past. In the past the Browns have held onto players due to where they were drafted, how much they were paid or to evade public scrutiny. This regime, whether they make right decisions or not, is willing to make whatever decisions required to create the team they think is best for the long term.
What reaction did you have last night and this morning?