Ex-Cleveland Browns RB Trent Richardson coming back yet again?
Could former Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson be back in the NFL yet again? His latest attempt at redemption came Sunday as he had his debut with the Birmingham Iron of the AAFC
Former Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson has had more comebacks than anyone since Freddie Krueger (no relation to former Brown Paul Kruger), and now he’s getting a shot with the new Birmingham Iron in the Alliance of American Football.
On Opening Day, he scored the first touchdown for the Iron and added a two-point conversion and a second touchdown. He also added a nice first down catch in which he eluded several defenders. Finally, he added a second touchdown on a short run to put the game away in the fourth quarter.
One of the most impressive runs might have been at about 7:30 of the fourth quarter in which he took the handoff and ran up the middle and carried an entire pile of bodies for a first down. He actually looked like an NFL running back on that play.
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On the negative side, Richardson was held in check the entire first half, stuffed for losses several times by Mike Singletary’s defense, and then coughed up the football in the third quarter. Channing Stribling, another ex-Brown, looked dominant in manhandling Richardson in the open field.
The Memphis Express played defense better than the score would lead you to believe, but Birmingham’s defense was even more dominant, destroying Christian Hackenberg and the Memphis offense. It was not a game to generate huge offensive stats.
Richardson, it will be recalled, was the third overall draft pick in the 2012 draft. The Browns traded four draft picks to get him including the fourth overall pick (plus a fourth-round pick, fifth-round pick, and seventh-round pick) to move up for Richardson. This was especially infuriating because just two years earlier, the Browns bundled three draft picks for Montario Hardesty ( a third and two fifth-round picks to move up to the late second round).
If you stop and think about it, that is seven draft picks including fourth overall in a three year period: 1,3,4, 5, 5,5, 7. That’ an entire draft. How can a team blow an entire draft on running backs?
Richardson was not totally the draft bust that people remember. In his rookie season, he rushed for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns in an offense led by aging rookie Brandon Weeden. Aging rookie? Yes, somehow the Browns drafted a rookie who was 28 years old — and even used a first-round pick on said rookie.
Richardson’s numbers were far from All-Pro, but they were not disastrous. But the following year, Richardson was traded for a 2014 first-round draft pick from the Indianapolis Colts. That first round draft pick was ultimately used for Johnny Manziel, incidentally, the ultimate dysfunction. Now that was a bust!
At any rate, Richardson had a poor year in Indianapolis, gaining only 458 yards and 2.9 yards per carry. Thus 2014 was supposed to be a year of redemption for Richardson, but once again he underperformed, gaining 748 yards from scrimmage, with 3.3 rushing yards per attempt. He looked overweight and sluggish throughout his frustrating campaign — which led to his release following that season.
Then there was a comeback attempt with the Raiders, which did not go well, and a similar disaster with the Baltimore Ravens. There was also an arrest on alleged domestic violence in 2017.
Later that year, realizing that no opportunities were forthcoming from the NFL, he gave Canadian football a try and seemed to rediscover himself with the Saskatchewan Rough Riders. In four games, he gained 258 yards with a 5.4 yards per carry average.
However, he did not return to the team for 2018. In usual Richardson fashion, the reasons for this were not clear.
At the end of the day, we really don’t know why Richardson has failed in his football career. There is no single cataclysm, more like a muddle.
Richardson is still only 28 years old. Although he has had a few knee surgeries, he’s believed to be healthy, and he looks to be at a good playing weight again.
The odds are against him making it back to the NFL. But he shows enough talent and enough promise that you can’t quite rule it out. We may just have to tune into the next Birmingham Iron game to see how the drama unfolds for another week….