Cleveland Browns fans had to be excited about the way their 2013 NFL season started. True, the team is off to an 0-2 start, but that does not tell the whole story. The team opened the season against the now 2-0 Miami Dolphins. Though they went down to defeat, the team was in the game till the end. Cleveland’s offense controlled their next game, against the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, until a late burst allowed Joe Flacco and friends the pull away.
It had to leave fans emboldened by the new sense of direction the team showed. Brandon Weeden showed flashes of being a good quarterback, and their defense was holding their own against some good offensive clubs. The centerpiece, though, has been second year running back, Trent Richardson. The Alabama product stormed on the scene with almost a thousand yards rushing last season while leading the team in touchdowns. He gave the team something they lacked, a consistent running game.
Ah, but the Browns have been plagued by bad decision making, and mismanagement for some time. With recent drafts, one might have hoped they were turning things around, but another perplexing move was unearthed this week by Cleveland’s new management team. The Browns announced that they traded Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts, in exchange for the Colts 2014 first round draft pick. The move has Cleveland fans shaking their heads and asking, “What happened?”
Richardson is elated to be heading to Indianapolis, where he will join forces with 2012 number one overall pick Andrew Luck. Luck led the Colts to the playoffs a season ago and did so without the help of a solid rushing attack. The addition of Richardson to the backfield gives Luck even more of an advantage. Defenses will not be able to look strictly for the pass, now that Luck has a legitimate weapon behind him in the backfield.
The move is strange on several fronts for Cleveland. First, it strengthens another AFC foe. Most teams, when trading a premier player, are hesitant to trade him within their own conference. With that being said, Cleveland trades him to Indianapolis, knowing he could be the missing link there. There is also a good chance they could face him each season. The other thing hard to grasp is the return they got for the trade. Think about when the Washington Redskins traded for Robert Griffin III (RG3). They gave up three number one picks to acquire the second overall draft pick.
Cleveland trades the third overall pick for a single number one selection. Not only do they get but one pick, but it will most likely not be that high up in the draft order. Indianapolis is considered a playoff contender so that pick acquired from Indianapolis could be in the mid to late twenties. One can get a good player there, but not an elite prospect.
The team says that they made the deal because they are looking to rebuild. First off, most fans believe that is what they have been doing for years. There is other conjecture that the new coach, Rob Chudzinski, does not believe that Richardson is the type of back he needs to run his offense. It would seem, though that the truth might lie in another direction.
Joe Banner and the new front office could be looking to purge the team of the Mike Holmgren image that was built. There is also the possibility that this is a money dump as Cleveland’s owner is known to have financial difficulties. It could explain why the team got so little for a big time talent, hoping to not take back to much salary concern in the transition.