Early thoughts on the Trent Richardson trade: This was the right move at the right time for the Browns. As a historical matter, 0-2 teams rarely go on to make the playoffs. I bet 0-2 teams starting their respective backup quarterbacks fare slightly worse. As I mentioned in the wake of the 2012 draft, Richardson is a good back, but not some rare commodity. What with Mike Lombardi’s commentary on Brandon Weeden, I’m sure he wishes he could take a mulligan and tab Ryan Tannehill and Doug Martin instead of the mess he inherited. Now he gets his chance.
The arguments against this trade I’ve heard so far just don’t hold water. This is not baseball or basketball where you can simply play out the season and presume that your best player will have the same trade value he did at mid-season; players sustain horrific, career-threatening injuries in the NFL on a weekly basis.
I like the Browns’ roster: Joe Haden is untouchable, and D’Qwell Jackson, Jabaal Sheard, Paul Kruger (maybe not at that money), Desmond Bryant (ditto), Barkevious Mingo, Josh Gordon, Joe Thomas, and Jordan Cameron are all players other teams should covet to a large degree. (When you write out those names, it really sinks in just how much potential this team has.) These players deserve every chance to win now. But swapping Willis McGahee for Richardson doesn’t hurt those chances much, and the Browns stood to make an awfully weak push for the playoffs until they upgrade the quarterback position. The first two weeks of this season certainly showed Browns fans as much.
Temper expectations for next April, though. The popular assumption is that the Browns secured themselves a pick in the top half of the first round. I have trouble agreeing. True, the Colts had way more actual wins last year than expected (based upon point differential), so they were bound to ‘regress to the mean,’ as it were. At least that theory held true until the team brought about a massive injection of talent into this roster. When you convert a future option to a present-day asset, the landscape changes. This team now has as much talent and depth as all but two or three teams in the AFC, even given their shortcomings on the back end of their defense.