Analyzing the Trent Richardson Trade

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Now that we have had some time to digest the move and rashly yell all our opinions, let’s take a good, long look at the Trent Richardson trade. NFL trades do not happen often; I thought my friend was preying upon my football obsession to garner a reaction when he told me in the middle of practice that Richardson got traded. That just shows how rare a blockbuster trade is in the NFL. To analyze the trade, it is best to look at what both teams get from the situation immediately, and what the long-term implications are.

Cleveland Browns

Immediately, the Browns waved the white flag and gave a large chunk of Ohio’s population more free time on Sundays. The Browns had two offensive weapons: Richardson and tight end Jordan Cameron. I don’t see many more wins coming without a back of Richardson’s caliber. The Browns received only a first round pick from the deal, which can be looked at two ways. The pick is going to be in the 18-32 range, as Indy is expected to at least contend for a playoff berth for most of the season.

The catch comes in what Cleveland can do with that pick. It’s obvious they are looking quarterback, or at least strongly considering it. Teddy Bridgewater is one of the better options to save a franchise out of the recent drafts, and even if Cleveland wins enough to not be in the top five, they can package the picks to trade up. That is just an option if Cleveland has an immense crush on Teddy. The draft looks to be stocked with quality quarterback prospects, and you have to think Cleveland will be bad enough to secure Bridgewater, Tajh Boyd, Marcus Mariota, or whomever of the eight or nine potential first-rounders rises to the top by draft day.

Cleveland may not even need to trade or use their first pick on a QB. Imagine the scenario that Cleveland gets the #2 pick. They are naturally assumed to be going QB, and a team such as Minnesota or Jacksonville is #1. Naturally the first team takes Bridgewater, needing a prospect of his caliber to avoid another five years of futility on a rushed franchise-saver. Cleveland, assumed to be taking Tajh Boyd, drafts the best defensive end in recent scouting history, Jadeveon Clowney. Cleveland’s defense automatically moves from above average to potential top five in the league, and Cleveland uses their later first round pick on whomever falls to them, be it Mariota, McCarron, Manziel, or another QB with a strong pre-draft seminar. The pick gives Cleveland flexibility, but a draft class with solid first-round talent all-around is needed to make the trade worth it (without a move being made for a top-tier guy).

*Note: this grade will improve/fall depending on how the draft class and draft position for Cleveland shapes up.

Grade (Immediate): C-

Cleveland’s future is also looking toward the draft slot they end up in. Already sporting a quality defense, Cleveland needs a complete offensive makeover to succeed. Brandon Weeden will go down as one of my all-time worst first-round quarterback selections (28-year-old rookies don’t go that high), Willis McGahee is not a long-term patch for Trent Richardson, and their one potential stud at wideout has off-field issues and a suspension to his name. The earlier of their two first round picks almost needs to go towards a new QB, a running back needs brought in, and some middle round picks need used on falling receivers who can be steals. How much do I like those odds? Very little. But, because of their solid defensive foundation and the likelihood they pick Bridgewater or Boyd over Clowney, I will avoid failing their future outlook.

Grade (Long-Term): C

 

Indianapolis Colts

Jim Irsay certainly came through on his promise for a shocking move! No one thought Cleveland would do anything with their biggest franchise building block, and no one thought Indy would trade a first round selection for a position that they signed Ahmad Bradshaw to solidify. The move is clearly designed to make Indy an immediate contender. A first round pick always gives you a chance to add for the future, but trading for a running back who may be about to hit his prime speaks to building a powerhouse. I believe Indy was better served letting the platoon of backs keep going, using the first round pick on a hole that is likely to open throughout the course of the season, and waiting another couple years when all their core players are hitting their prime to make win-now moves.

Grade (Immediate): C

The long-term of this is actually far more positive than what I had first imagined. Running backs are easier to come by in a pinch than other positions (save for maybe receiver), but Richardson has the potential to be above that plateau of moderately effective runners and join the echelon of premier backs in the league. Imagine a team with Andrew Luck as a top-five QB, Richardson as a stud bruising back, and T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen, and Coby Fleener harassing the entirety of opponent’s secondaries? Seems a lot like Indy’s blueprint when Edgerrin James and Peyton Manning ran that show, and last time I checked, that was a pretty good era for the Colts. A first round pick in this year’s draft would be nice to have, but if Richardson gives the Colts the ground game they have not had since the days of Edgerrin, it is worth the cost.

Grade (Long-Term): B+

 

A few lessons can be learned from this eventful transaction. Among them are that virtually no player in the league is untouchable, trades, while sparse, can happen, and can have drastic impacts, and speculation can make what is really a smart and well-rounded move into a horrible decision that costs some executives their jobs. So let’s just sit back, relax, and enjoy watching how this move unfolds.

God Bless!

– Dan

 

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