Mike Holmgren hates Cleveland Browns’ trade of Trent Richardson, says he’d quit if he was head coach

Eric Edholm
September 20, 2013

Mike Holmgren was in charge of delivering the Cleveland Browns Brandon Weeden at quarterback and Trent Richardson at running back.

So you can imagine that Holmgren isn't seeing this trade from the perspective of the Browns' new regime. In fact, if he was coach, Holmgren said he would have stepped down following the deal, he said on Sports Radio 950 KJR in Seattle on Thursday, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

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"I struggled with it,'' Holmgren said. "Philosophically, if I am the coach and someone came in anywhere and did that, I'd say 'OK, fire me, or I'm going to quit. Or we're going to both go into the owner and talk about this and the we'll see who's still standing.'''

Holmgren, the former team president, was let go after Jimmy Haslam took over ownership last fall, and Joe Banner replaced Holmgren. The team fired Pat Shurmur and his staff and hired Rob Chudzinski in his place. There's a new sheriff and deputy in town, and they clearly don't share Holmgren's vision of building the offense.

"How do you make your team better by trading your best player?'' he said rhetorically. "He's the best offensive player. He's a valuable, valuable guy.'

"Clearly the coach (Chudzinski) is OK with this because they sat at the news conference together. I personally would not be OK with it. It was my best offensive player, a young guy. Not an eight-year vet. He's a young guy.''

Part of this might be Holmgren trying to repair his reputation, which has taken a bit of a hit in recent seasons, and maybe there are some hurt feelings with how things ended in Cleveland. But less than 18 months after his regime drafted Richardson to the Browns, it's still clear that Holmgren remains fond of him, too, and thinks that the Browns made a dire mistake here.

Holmgren wondered what the Browns players thought of the deal.

"You can't tell me some of those players aren't asking some of the questions [we] are asking,'' he said. "They were friends with [Richardson]. It's too wild. This sort of thing doesn't happen, and it happened, so asking questions about it would be natural.''

As an aside, there also was an interesting note from the interview with Holmgren: He offered the Colts his entire 2012 draft pool of picks for the Colts' No. 1 pick, so he could draft Andrew Luck. Colts GM Ryan Grigson wasn't having anything to do with that Rick Williams-esque offer.

"I talked to him last year (at the owner's meetings) before we made the trade,'' he said. "I said, 'I'll give you all of our draft picks for the No. 1 pick and I'll take Luck. I'll give the whole draft to you.

"I said, 'Ryan let's do the deal, right now, right here.' He said, 'We're taking Luck.' We were by the pool, I might've even had a lemonade in my hand. He didn't take me seriously, because I was ready to pull the trigger. They were going to take him, and they should've taken him. They did the right thing, but he said if some craziness would've happened, they would've taken Trent Richardson. And now a year later, they get both of them. If you asked him last year, 'Would you trade your 24th pick in the first round for Trent Richardson,' you would do that easily.''

Crazy how much can happen in a year.

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