The powerful, bruising running back Trent Richardson elicited excitement from football enthusiasts since his days at Alabama, making many wonder how his throwback abilities would translate to the NFL and just how much he could transform the likely sorry franchise he would join after leaving Tuscaloosa.
When the Cleveland Browns stepped up and took Richardson with the third pick in the 2012 draft, it could be assumed that Richardson was just doomed to years of mediocrity and irrelevancy by Lake Erie until the sweet release of free agency came over him, allowing the Pensacola, Fla. native to do his thing for a more worthy franchise.
Oh, how a year and a couple running back injuries change things.
Due to some unforeseen hits to the Indianapolis Colts’ depth chart in their backfield, Indy was compelled to bring Richardson in Wednesday in exchange for the Colts’ first round pick in 2014, a transaction that shook up the NFL news cycle unlike any mid-season move in quite a long time.
Personally, I love this very much. Beyond the selfishness of seeing a fantasy running back of mine leave a likely bottom feeder in the AFC North to join a contender for the AFC South crown (Indy’s more effective offense –>mo’ points to come), it is just heartwarming to see as a football fan the kind of unexpected development during a season that other sports like basketball and baseball use so much to help define their seasons.
Not that the NFL needs crazy mid-season trades to enhance its relevance, but to see something like this happen on top of a great first two weeks to the season means a lot, and sets up some added intrigue as the season unfolds.
First off: Indianapolis now has two of the top three picks from the 2012 draft in its backfield. If Colts owner Jim Irsay throws out another series of teasing tweets next week and Washington gets blown out this Sunday, we can only assume that Indy is trading Reggie Wayne for RG3.
Really though, how many times have you heard of a team featuring not only two of three top overall draft picks from a given year, but two guys (quarterback Andrew Luck being the other) who could very well carry a franchise for 10 years, providing in the interim all-pro numbers.
With Joe Thomas and four other guys blocking him last year, Richardson gained nearly a 1,000 yards rushing and 1,300 combined yardage. Meanwhile, Luck led Indy to the playoffs in his first try. These are two special players combining here and the Colts, who not long ago had to say goodbye to Peyton Manning and had no prospects for the near future, are pretty much set in their most important offensive positions and could perhaps play a scarily-balanced game that only the elite defenses of the NFL could hope to contain.
A quick take on Cleveland too: it’d be nice to see the Browns resurrect themselves as a respectable franchise at some point, it would do a lot for that city, but ionno…
Its become clear that the Browns initiated the trade, their new management is dedicated to remaking the franchise in their own image, doing away with any remnants of the previous Mike Holmgren regime. Plus, a second first round pick to play with is certainly a come up.
There have been reasoned arguments that the Browns are thinking ahead in the right way, but the last two times they’ve had two first round picks were in ’12 when they took Brandon Weeden to pair with Richardson (*Price is Right loser horn*) and back in ’07 when Brady Quinn made sure the franchise only batted .500 after picking Thomas No. 3 overall.
Much like the Bears pre-Cutler, the Browns seem to be in a perpetual cycle of bad QB play. Maybe the guy is out there for them in ’14, maybe he’ll be selected with the pick gained Wednesday and maybe Bron will return to the city in a couple years…ya’ll keep your heads up, Northeast Ohio. In the meanwhile, I’ma take my first real look at the Colts 2013 schedule.
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