COMMENTARY | It was only a few weeks ago that fans of the Cleveland Browns believed that the team could potentially finish the season with a .500 record. The 0-2 Browns have now raised the white flag on the 2013 campaign.
Less than 12 hours after the team announced that Brian Hoyer would start at quarterback in place of the injured Brandon Weeden (sprained thumb) this coming Sunday when Cleveland is on the road against the Minnesota Vikings, the Browns shocked its fan base and many in the NFL by announcing that they had traded running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2014 first round draft pick. Richardson earned 950 yards and scored 11 rushing touchdowns in his rookie campaign. He added a receiving touchdown in 2012.
Richardson, an undeniably talented running back and the third overall pick of the 2012 draft, has dealt with a laundry list of injuries during his brief NFL career. He had surgery on his left knee before the 2012 season, and then played through broken ribs last fall. A left ankle sprain prematurely ended his rookie season. He has gained a total of 105 yards and averaged 3.4 yards per carry in Cleveland's two games this season.
According to multiple reports, the Browns are expected to sign veteran RB Willis McGahee. McGahee was reportedly on the radar of the New York Giants after they lost Andre Brown to a broken leg for at least the first ten weeks of the season. New York instead re-signed former Giants RB Brandon Jacobs.
The previously linked Cleveland.com story quotes team CEO Joe Banner as having stated the following: "Trent's a great player and we expect him to have success in this league. 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."
All indications, according to conversations heard on Cleveland sports talk radio, are that the Browns are now stockpiling first round picks, potentially in order to trade up and select the top quarterback in next spring's NFL Draft. It's unknown if the Browns have one particular QB in mind. It was reported this past Monday that Cleveland assistant general manager Ray Farmer attended the September 14 Alabama at Texas A&M game specifically to scout "Johnny Football" Johnny Manziel.
Cleveland will, assuming that the team does sign McGahee, have a backfield that includes the banged up veteran, Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey. The team's starting QB is a five-year pro who is very unproven. Their top wide receiver, Josh Gordon, hasn't played a down of regular season football in 2013 due to suspension. Cleveland's offensive line was abysmal against the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens, and the Richardson deal doesn't fix that issue.
Analysts and fans alike can talk about how veterans such as Joe Thomas, Joe Haden and D'Qwell Jackson must emotionally lift what has to be a shaken locker room heading into this weekend's Minnesota contest. Wednesday's events all point to the new Cleveland regime blowing up all that was done by the franchise's previous administration. The Browns have unofficially begun prepping for the 2014 offseason.
Odds are that the Richardson trade is only the beginning.
Zac has been following Cleveland sports since a little before his birth, and thus his heart breaks a little more with every year. He has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and the NFL for Yahoo! Sports since 2010
- Cleveland Browns
- Trent Richardson
- the Browns
- Brian Hoyer
- New York Giants
- Brandon Weeden