The Browns shocked the NFL world Wednesday by trading Trent Richardson, the 3rd overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick in this years draft. The new Browns’ front office clearly viewed the former Alabama star as expendable and proceeded to make the first major move of the regime. Cleveland will look to rebuild for the future using the first round pick to find a definitive franchise player. Let’s look at the trade’s impact for both teams.
The Indianapolis Colts now have two of the top three picks in the 2012 draft and maybe one of the most dangerous young duos in the NFL. Trent Richardson will provide balance to an air-raid squad that ranked 22nd in rushing yards last year and only scored 11 rushing touchdowns , with five of those from Andrew Luck. Trent Richardson will also provide protection for Luck, another necessity for the Colts. Jim Irsay has been vocal about protecting his young star QB, and has even tweeted about it. Another dimension of this trade is Richardson’s pass catching ability. He caught 58 passes with the Browns last year and should exceed that amount with Luck at QB. This is a major move for the Colts, and a big plus in establishing a more balanced and potent offense.
It seems that every year is either a bounce-back or rebuilding year for the Browns, but this may really be the last year of tanking for Cleveland fans. The Browns experimented with the 29-year old Brandon Weeden, and now it is time for the Browns to get serious about turning around their franchise. Although T-Rich was clearly their most talented and most promising player, the modern day NFL places emphasis on throwing the ball downfield. With this year’s potent QB draft class, the Browns should have little trouble finding the right man to lead their franchise. If they have don’t have the top pick to take an elite QB, they could use the Colts’ pick as a trading piece to move up and select their quarterback. We have seen rookies turn around franchises (see Luck and the Colts, RG3 and the Redskins and Russell Wilson and the Seahawks), and the Browns have the potential to do the same. Cleveland has young and emerging players like Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon, who have great potential. If the Browns add more offense skill position players using their other picks, look for the Browns to become a threat in the AFC North. Though talented, Trent Richardson was expendable according to the new Browns’ regime, and they used his value set the stage for a much better future.
This trade should be a win-win for both teams. Trent Richardson will contribute in Indy, and expand their offense options substantially, and Cleveland will finally land its franchise QB in a stacked draft. Let’s hope Richardson stays healthy and avoids injuries which have nagged him at Alabama and in the NFL. And for the Browns, there are no guaranteed successes in the draft, but the deal looks good for everyone.
Stats from ESPN