I a surprising deal that tells a lot about current and future ambitions on two very different franchises, the Cleveland Browns traded running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a first round pick.
While the Colts didn’t get a Jim Brown or Barry Sanders, their running back situation has been so poor for the last couple of years that Richardson’s addition is a cause for celebration. The second-year running back, the 3rd overall pick by the Browns in the 2012 draft, ran for 105 yards through his first two games this season and 950 yards, with 11 touchdowns last season. While it certainly improves Indianapolis after some worrying signs in the first couple of weeks, it shows the Browns are willing to give up on their two first picks of the 2012 draft and can’t wait for this season to be over.
With the pick from the Colts, the Browns now have two picks in the first round and 10 overall, as they attempt to rebuild the franchise that seems to be stuck in an endless spiral of losing while making bad choices with high picks in the draft, failing to get out of it.
Richardson did well during his rookie season, playing with broken ribs for most of the season, but he wasn’t what new head coach Rob Chudzinsk and offensive coordinator Norv Turner wanted from the offense they envisions. The fact that Richardson actually wanted the ball more (31 carries through the first couple of games) didn’t help.
For the Colts, Richardson might become the backfield option they’ve been missing to compliment Andrew Luck with. The Colts were 26th in the NFL last season in yards per rush with 3.8 per carry, and were ranked 22nd overall in the NFL in rushing yards. This season, with the addition of Ahmad Bradshaw, things have been looking better (5 yards per carry), but the injury to Vick Ballard was something they needed to address.
Another thing Richardson brings to the table is his ability to contribute in the passing game – he has caught 58 passes for 418 yards since entering the league. The Colts’ running backs, over that time, have ranked 28th in the NFL in yards, 31st in yards after carry and second worst when it comes to dropped passes (over 12%). Richardson also improves their goal-to-go situations, making them less reliant on Andrew Luck; Luck has scored five touchdowns on six carries in that situation, while his running backs have converted only 6 of their 24 runs in those situations.