Mike Tannenbaum was general manager of the Jets from 2006-2012, a franchise that went to consecutive AFC championship games, and is currently working as an agent for coaches and executives. He will regularly contribute to Yahoo Sports with views about business of the NFL and how to field winning football teams.
The Trent Richardson trade is a true rarity in today’s NFL, in terms of the magnitude of moving a top three pick from the prior year’s draft and the fact that marquee running backs are hardly ever traded (Marshall Faulk, Eric Dickerson, Curtis Martin and Herschel Walker are a few notable exceptions). The fact that it happened in the middle of the season is even more unusual. Here is my take for both sides:
Why this trade makes sense for the Browns
For obvious reasons, this gives the Browns plenty of options in next year’s draft as they continue to build their team in their own strategic vision. Based on what CEO Joe Banner has done previously, you wouldn’t expect the Browns to put significant resources into the running back position. The Eagles won with the LeSean McCoys (second round) and the Brian Westbrooks (third round) of the world. In addition, there are countless other examples of productive backs taken later in the draft or not drafted at all – Arian Foster and Alfred Morris to name a couple. This will make the Browns major players in the 2014 draft and give them tremendous flexibility to maneuver in the draft as they see fit, especially to facilitate the drafting of a quarterback.
The challenge for the Browns will be ...
Specifically for coach Rob Chudzinski, it will be getting up in front of the team and telling them that not all hope is lost. In this day and age, everything a Browns player will hear, from their loved ones to traditional media to social media, is that there’s no hope this year. He needs to be careful because he’s trying to establish a program and credibility and it’s important in the first year of any program for the coach to win enough so that the players believe in his way of doing things. When Bill Parcells came to the Jets in 1997, he constantly talked about establishing an identity with “hold the fort” players who gave the program toughness and credibility. Players like Pepper Johnson helped lead the 1997 Jets to an eight-win improvement over the 1996 team. Chudzinski’s leadership will be tested because his voice of optimism will be counter balanced by a sea of distractions from the outside. He will need to do everything within reason to get his players to tune out the noise.
Why this trade makes sense for the Colts
If you believe in the axiom of pass to score and run to win (which I do by the way), this trade makes a lot of sense for the Colts. With T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne and Coby Fleener, Indy will score and score often, but to close out games, look for Richardson to have 6-8 carries in the fourth quarter. I also think Richardson brings some toughness to the Colts and that will play well with coach Chuck Pagano's AFC North and defensive roots. The jury is still out on Richardson’s ability – it’s hard to see him in the Adrian Peterson category – but he still has the potential to be a high level running back in the NFL, and clearly he’s significantly better than any other option that Indy had after Vick Ballard got hurt.
The challenge for the Colts is ...
Not having a first-round pick next year will limit their ability to improve their franchise, but general manager Ryan Grigson has demonstrated the ability to acquire talent throughout the entire draft. In addition, they have put a ton of resources into their offensive line since Grigson has taken over, most notably third- and fourth-round picks this year in Hugh Thornton and Khaled Holmes, as well as signing tackle Gosder Cherilus. This group will have to play well to keep Andrew Luck healthy and give Richardson a chance to be a productive back.