Aug 29, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson (33) practices before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Browns Front Office Makes Right Calculation With Richardson

The Cleveland Browns came in with hopes of being more competitive this year on offense.  When that did not happen, the Browns front office acted quickly and made an important calculation.  They know the offense is horrible.  They were not going to pretend it was not.  The previous front office made a terrible pick in Brandon Weeden and just had this running back, albeit an exceptionally talented one, in Trent Richardson to get beat up all year long.  Rather than just let him rot behind nothing, they make the move to trade the talented back to the Colts for a first round pick giving them two this coming year in addition to other picks to lock down the quarterback they so desperately need.

Richardson is a big ball of talent but there are so many critics who are disappointed with how he started out his young career.  He came into the league after suffering a knee injury at Alabama.  He suffered another knee injury in camp for the Browns and missed all of camp as a rookie.  After his knee recovered, he suffered broken ribs.  There is reason to be nervous with how he gets hurt.

Running backs not named Adrian Peterson are not difficult to find.  The Browns can get another back and need to get several more backs in the next year(s).  Using a top 5 pick on a back in the first place was a terrible investment given the nature of the position.  Getting a first round pick is great value for a player who is talented but has not been great to this point.  Getting the running back first and the quarterback second is not the right way to build.  Get the quarterback first and get the running back to complement him and be able to hit the ground running and excel.  That is why this is a good deal for both sides.

The Browns are in full on tank mode.  As frustrating as that might sound, rather than being mildly bad, they are going to make sure they are awful.  Like the Colts did with Andrew Luck, they have the opportunity to get a legitimate quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater.  He has the talent to be a franchise changer.  Now, they still have an extra first round pick, an extra third round pick and an extra fourth round pick.  Hopefully, the Browns finish for the top pick in the draft and can simply draft Bridgewater.  Part of the brilliance of the Colts was they got Luck without giving up any extra picks while the Redskins were forced to mortgage the future.  It was worth it but the Colts had more assets to build the team.

The Browns can hopefully use the first pick on Bridgewater and then use the rest to give him weapons and finish the defense.  Imagine, getting Bridgewater and one of the talented receivers or tight ends in the class or getting a great defensive back.  They could take a back or multiple backs in the middle of the draft.

Even if the Colts have a great year and the pick is in the 20s, it is still worth it.  If they make the playoffs, more power to them.  The pick gets even more valuable if they cannot get in the playoffs and that pick is in the teens.  They have a ton of draft assets and now the pressure is on them to make this draft counts.  Everything revolves around the 2014 NFL Draft.  Trent Richardson seems like a genuinely great person and player, so all the best to him, but it never made sense here and he will see that when he has holes to run through because teams have to respect Luck.  This could end up being a great move for all involved.  The Browns get a franchise quarterback and the Colts get a franchise running back.

Finally, a front office who embraces the idea of how to get a quarterback and potentially having the ability to make up for the mistake that was not getting Robert Griffin III.  All of this could be made up for and more if they can get Bridgewater and not have to trade a thing to do it.

As bad as this sounds right this second and how bad the team could be, they still have a talented offensive line and the makings of a great defense.  Now, they should be in position to get a franchise quarterback and give him the tools to succeed.  It will not be fun over the next 14 weeks, but it will be worth it if they can lock down a talented passer like Bridgewater.  They will a lot of good tools in place and can really take off when Bridgewater and the new weapons get going.  This could be the day that changes the Browns future for the positive, finally.  Embrace it.

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  • BBWlover1969

    So…they trade to a team that could very well make a deep playoff run. Which means a low first round pick. Which also means you traded a 3 for a 27? 28 pick? Why Lombardi? Blaine Gabbert wasn’t available?

    • Pete Smith

      Assuming the Colts do that well. They maxed out the value on Richardson. He was never going to be worth this much again. The fact he was picked 3rd is irrelevant.

      • Michael Shake

        The trade really stunned me but it makes sense. Richardson has never done a thing, 3.4 yards per carry sucks. Blame it on the o-line or whatever but he just does not find any holes and we will see soon enough if McGahee can do better.

  • Malone

    Great article.

    • Pete Smith

      Thank you.

      • freeme10

        Pete – I did not enjoy this article. That it is not to say that it was not well written and thought out, it just makes me sad.

        • Pete Smith

          Fair enough. Thanks for reading it.

  • freeme10

    I am gutted. The Factory of Sadness is running at full capacity.

  • Herbal Stylez

    Are you smoking crack Pete?

    You are saying all of this about a QB who has only played 3 games this season. Who’s to say Bridgewater doesn’t break a leg or arm this year. To use Trent Richardson’s injuries as a good reason to trade him makes me wonder if you really even watch football.

    Trent gets injured because he is a running back who has 6′ 7″ 250-300 lb. grown men trying to hurt him. But unlike many other RB’s in the league , Trent still plays through many of these injuries. He is a Franchise player that will more than likely end up in the NFL Hall of Fame 20 years from now, which the Browns haven’t had in decades.

    Anyone who doesn’t live under a rock knows that the Browns have a terrible track record with drafting, and that T.R. was the best draft pick we’ve had in 20 years, so what makes you think that next year will be any better than in the past?

    • Pete Smith

      Mitchell Schwartz may end up the better pick just from that draft. Jabaal Sheard has done more than Richardson to this point in his career. I don’t want to be put in the position to be anti-Trent Richardson because I like Trent Richardson. He has not established himself as a great back yet and the injuries were concerning. Richardson might be a terrific player for Indianapolis. The Browns have to get a quarterback, period. This helps them do it.

      • Herbal Stylez

        I can agree with you that the Browns have to get a QB, but I just think the potential risk of this move isn’t worth the potential reward.

        However, I do hope that you prove me wrong…

    • Steve

      Sorry but TR is just not that good. He has a two step dance step that he does on 90% of his runs. NY that time he has acumulted several dance partners that weigh 250 to 300 pounds. Unless he breaks this very bad habit his brightest future is on dancing with the stars.

  • Gary D. Kincaid

    I tend to agree that while this move doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, it probably is the best move the Browns could have made to cut bait on this season and run full steam into next year. Let’s be honest, our best hope this year was going to be watching another crappy team win 5,6 or maybe 7 games and coming to the realization yet again that this QB aka Brandon Weed on isn’t the answer. This just ends that suffering that much sooner and gets us to the next chapter of misery that much faster.

  • Tom Shaw

    First… Browns did not need to deal Richardson to tank this season.
    Second… Browns would’ve at least finish bottom 3 yielding bridgewater, tajh boyd, or johnny manziel.
    Third… Teddy Bridgewater will not declare for the draft if the Browns pick first (I wouldn’t either).
    Fourth… I don’t care who they take with the mid 20 pick they just received, that person will not be better than Trent Richardson.
    Fifth… The likelihood of them landing a starting offensive star at all that late in the draft is unlikely.
    Sixth… This regime sucks at drafting, although Mingo shows promise, they reached on a situational pass rusher in the early first that they do not even play every down. Exhibit 2: McFadden the prospective number 2 corner sucks.

    end rant.

    • Herbal Stylez

      Amen to that Tom!!

    • Pete Smith

      1. They should
      2. Yes please / Maybe / No thank you
      3. Nonsense
      4. Don’t be so sure. He was not exactly setting the world ablaze with his talents. Doesn’t mean he couldn’t, but he wasn’t.
      5. Complete nonsense for far more reasons than I feel like getting into.
      6. You can never have too many talented pass rushers and the argument that he is not on the field for the first play of the game, so he’s not good, is ridiculous. Was not a reach. He’s legit.
      Leon McFadden was hurt in training camp and preseason, which hurt his development. Frustrating that he has not been able to show anything yet, but hardly sucks.

      • Tom Shaw

        Explain why in the world teddy bridgewater with the new rookie salary system in place wouldn’t go back to school to avoid playing for the browns. They have an awful oline which will most likely lose Alex Mack, they have Josh Gordon, and an undrafted running back or old willis mcgahee. Why would you want to play for an organization with our track record on QBs?

        • Pete Smith

          Yea, I’m sure Bridgewater would hate to have Joe Thomas. I have no idea why people assume Mack is going anywhere. Schwartz has had a rough 2 weeks but played well last year when he had a competent guard next to him. Weeden creates many of his own problems.

          Where should Bridgewater want to go? Oakland? Jacksonville? Stop. That’s just nonsense.

          You can never have too many pass rushers. No one expected that pick? I called for and hoped for the pick and I was not the only one. Who should have they taken?

          So, the Browns, who have had problems with Josh Gordon getting suspended, should have taken a player who failed double digit drug tests and was such a problem that he went from getting Heisman votes to off the team at LSU? No thank you.

  • Steve

    This article is right on with the exception of one fact – TR just isn’t that good. Great dancer but not a premiere NFL running back. Great move.

    • Pete Smith

      He has not been. The talent is there, but he has not delivered yet. He might be a phenomenal back for the Colts. He may not. Either way, the value was fantastic on the move. They just have to make it count and get a franchise QB

  • Dawg Eat Dawg

    Lets hope that the Browns use some of those picks to upgrade the Offensive line. It took Weeden less than two games to get hurt, who knows how long Richardson would’ve lasted. The point is, besides a QB and a RB, this teams needs at least 2 more quality Off. linemen or it won’t matter who the skilled guys are.

    • Pete Smith

      Weeden creates a lot of his own problems. Oniel Cousins is embarrassing as we’ve discussed extensively and Schwartz has to bounce back in a big way, but the OLine is not bad. It’s quite good when they do not have a couch parked between Mack and Schwartz. A legitimate QB would make a ton of difference for this team, which is part of their calculation

  • NickNorthern

    I think this trade was a better deal for the Colts who now instantly have a better running game, but I see the sense in it for Cleveland. Good article and I agree on all points except I am bigger on Boyd from Clemson than Bridgewater. With McGahee coming in, we will have a stop gap, but running back is now an added need for this team. I just feel bad for the season ticket holders who were wanting to see Richardson this year.

  • Mike Belsito

    The biggest problem is that we likely won’t be the WORST team. Our defense will win us a game or two more than Jacksonville. And guess what they need — a QB. People aren’t talking about “Suck for Tajh….or suck for Johnny”…they’re saying “Suck for Teddy.” Even with all of our “assets” we’re stockpiling, why would Jacksonville trade the #1 overall pick when they need Teddy just as bad as we do? My point is, even with extra picks…we’re likely NOT going to get “our guy.”

    • Pete Smith

      Until the Browns actually win a game or few, they are in the running for Bridgewater. Week 13 is a big one for the Browns to lose

  • Poopadoop

    Browns are tied for first place in their division. Can we get a retraction?

    • Pete Smith

      What would I retract? The Browns were smart to make the trade. That has not changed. As for bottoming out… that looks unlikely. They still need a QB. That has not changed. Beyond that, they are 4 games into the season. The only part that looks wrong is the idea that they would finish near the bottom of the league, which could still happen but likely will not