Why did the Cleveland Browns trade Trent Richardson?

trent-richardsonYesterday the Cleveland Browns pulled off the biggest trade of the 2013 NFL season when they sent Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Following this transaction, Ahmad Bradshaw fantasy owners cringed, casual league fans were puzzled, and Browns fans were like “What the f**k!?”

After all, Richardson was the third overall pick of the 2012 Draft, an every-down back, and somebody who was generally expected to be a franchise player. So why did the Cleveland Browns trade their most precious commodity? Especially when the Colts’ top pick only projects to be a middle-first rounder?

Well the simple answer is that they’re trying to tank the season following an 0-2 start. So why not get rid of their injury-plagued running back while they still can and stockpile another first-round pick in the process.

Basically, the Browns found the perfect taker for Richardson because Indianapolis is desperate to solve their running back situation and make the playoffs for a second consecutive year. They thought that Bradshaw could be this guy when they signed him to a one-year deal in the offseason, or at least a combination of him and Vick Ballard.

trent-richardsonBut Ballard exited in the first week with a season-ending knee injury while Bradshaw has been nothing more than steady with 91 rushing yards, 26 receiving yards and a touchdown (in 2 games). Plus, given his constant foot injuries, the Colts felt that adding a potential star player like Richardson could boost their postseason chances in a crowded AFC East division.

And make no mistake about it, Richardson is a top-notch talent who’s capable of great things. In his rookie season with Cleveland, the Alabama product rushed for 950 yards, added 367 receiving yards, and scored 12 TD’s, despite playing through injuries. So just imagine what he could do on a team where opposing defenses need to worry about the pass.

Unfortunately, this team wasn’t the Browns and opponents were stacking the box with seven and eight defenders on every play, just daring Brandon Weeden to throw. The way Cleveland sees it, why keep running Richardson into a brick wall this season while losing games when he’s got major trade value.

Let’s face it…the Weeden experiment has failed after 18 games, the offensive line is still bad, and there are no huge play-making threats on this club. These are all things that management feared going into the 2013 season, but there was also a glimmer of hope if Weeden could’ve developed.

teddy-bridgewater-draftThat hope is gone, and now, like 50% of the league, Cleveland is trying to find a reliable quarterback. With an extra first-rounder, they now have the chance to trade up for Teddy Bridgewater, if the Jacksonville Jaguars (who are definitely going to finish dead last) feel like making a deal. If this doesn’t work out, Cleveland is likely to finish with the league’s second worst record, which would probably land them UCLA QB Brett Hundley.

Some say South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in the most talented player in the draft. However, it’s unlikely that the Browns would pass up the chance at getting a signal caller in a class that’s loaded with QB talent.

But for now, Cleveland will pretend to focus on this season by bringing veteran Willis McGahee into the fold and trying to win a game or two. But as the Richardson trade indicates, they are really only thinking about 2014 and beyond.

NFL Power Rankings for Nov. 1st, 2012

Last week was one for the favorites since most of the NFL’s top teams were able to win. This being said, there are few changes in the NFL power rankings from our perspective. Nevertheless, there are a few changes within our top 10 so let’s review them and discuss who’s at the top.

1. Atlanta (7-0) – The Eagles never stood a chance last game as the Falcons took control on the road early and never let up. Matt Ryan tossed three touchdowns for Atlanta while the defense held Michael Vick to a rather mediocre day. All in all, this is easily the league’s best team right now.

Last Game: 30-17 win over Philadelphia.
Next Game: vs. Dallas Cowboys

2. San Francisco 49ers (6-2) – QB Alex Smith quieted the critics by completing 18 of 19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns. Assuming he could play like this every week, the Niners would have no weaknesses on either side of the ball thanks to an annihilating defense.

Last Game: 24-3 win over Arizona
Next Game: vs. St. Louis (Nov. 11)

3. Houston Texans (6-1) – The Texans get a nice tune-up game coming off the bye week as they face Buffalo at home. Running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate are no doubt chomping at the bit to run all over the porous Bills defense. Looking past this game, the big question will be how well QB Matt Schaub can move the ball when Houston is in close games.

Last Game: Bye
Next Game: vs. Buffalo Bills

4. Chicago Bears (6-1) – A come-from-behind victory over the one-win Panthers doesn’t exactly look pretty on your resume. So while the Bears could easily be second or third on our rankings, they’re sitting at fourth as of now. They could be a lot lower had Carolina not made several huge mistakes to help Chicago out.

Last Game: 23-22 win over Carolina
Next Game: at Tennessee

5. New York Giants (6-2) – The G-Men got off to a hot start last week thanks to the three early interceptions that Tony Romo threw. However, the Dallas QB came storming back to throw for 437 yards and nearly lead the Cowboys back. In any case, New York added another win and stays put at number five in our power rankings.

Last Game: 29-24 win over Dallas
Next Game: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

6. Green Bay Packers (5-3) – An unimpressive home win over the injury-ridden Jacksonville Jaguars doesn’t make Green Bay look like a powerhouse. However, star receiver Jordy Nelson was out of this one, and the Packers were still able to do what they needed for a W. Another home victory over the reeling Cardinals would certainly help the Pack keep pace with Chicago in the NFC North.

Last Game: 24-15 win over Jacksonville
Next Game: vs. Arizona Cardinals

7. Baltimore Ravens (5-2) – The Ravens got a much-needed bye week to heal their wounds and hopefully climb back to Super Bowl contender status. They have a solid chance to win on the road at Cleveland this week and maintain control over the AFC North.

Last Game: Bye
Next Game: at Cleveland Browns.

8. New England Patriots (5-3) – St. Louis hasn’t been an easy opponent for teams this year, but the Patriots certainly made the Rams look bad in a blowout victory. Tom Brady tossed four TD’s while Stevan Ridley ran wild for 127 yards against a normally-stout run defense. If only the Patriots could stay consistent…

Last Game: 45-7 win over St. Louis
Next Game: vs. Buffalo (Nov. 11)

9. Denver Broncos (4-3) – The Broncos make their first appearance in our power rankings thanks to a 34-14 drubbing of the Saints. Okay, so maybe everybody has been beating up on New Orleans, but one can’t deny Denver’s lethal offensive group of QB Peyton Manning, WR’s Demaryius Thomas and Erik Decker, and RB Willis McGahee. Rookie Ronnie Hillman is also beginning to look like yet another weapon on this team too.

10. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) – Is the Steelers defense beginning to return back to their old, vaunted form? Judging from the way they shut down RGIII and the Redskins, perhaps the Pittsburgh D is back. If the Steelers can maintain a consistent running game, they could challenge the Ravens for the AFC North crown. This team faces an extremely tough test against the Giants in New York on Sunday.

Last Game: 27-12 win over Washington
Next Game: at New York Giants