Two games into Trent Richardson's second season, the Cleveland Browns have given up on the running back who was the third pick of the 2012 draft. In a surprise move, the Browns shipped Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday for a first-round pick in the 2014 draft.
There's spinning your wheels, then there's the Browns. This is one of the more baffling moves the team has pulled off, and there have been plenty to go around.
Richardson has not been great in his one-plus NFL seasons, but last year he was playing through injuries most of the season. He has flashed his tremendous talent already (when the Browns weren't deciding to let Brandon Weeden throw 53 times in a close Week 1 while giving Richardson just 13 carries in a close game, anyway). The new front office, led by general manager Mike Lombardi, decided to ship off Richardson already – and in the process announce they've practically given up on the 2014 season after two games.
For now, it looks as if the Browns will turn to free agent veteran Willis McGahee to fill the role that Richardson is leaving.
#Browns announce trade of RT Trent Richardson to Colts for 1st-round pick. RB Willis McGahee will come in for physical.
— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) September 18, 2013
When you give up on the third pick of the draft after a little more than a year and turn to someone like McGahee, you have to wonder if the franchise has any long-term vision. There's almost no chance the Colts' pick will be in the top five, especially now that the offense has added a legitimate running back.
The Colts lost starting running back Vick Ballard to a freak knee injury in practice last week, leaving them with Ahmad Bradshaw and little else. Colts owner Jim Irsay got Twitter buzzing with this message on Wednesday afternoon.
This day of MONSTER TRADE,The Tidal Wave Of Deal making...Shocks the system of "..Didn't see THIS ONE COMING!!!!!!" Grig's Rollin' Dice!
— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) September 18, 2013
Less than an hour later the Colts had stolen Richardson from the Browns.
"Trent's a great player and we expect him to have success in this league," Browns CEO Joe Banner said, according to AP. "Right now, based on how we're building this team for sustainable success, we're going to be aggressive and do what it takes to assemble a team that consistently wins."
Richardson has 298 carries for 1,055 yards and 11 touchdowns in his 17 NFL games, while adding 58 receptions for 418 yards and one touchdown. Again, he dealt with injuries last season, including broken ribs, so the numbers don't tell the whole story.
How bad was this trade? Well, Cleveland running back Dion Lewis, who is on injured reserve, wasn't sure if he was being pranked:
This real or fake
— Dion Lewis (@DionLewis28) September 18, 2013
The Browns at least have some ammunition for next year's draft. After the Richardson trade, it's a pretty good bet their own pick will be very high in the first round.