In what is the biggest midseason trade in recent years, the Indianapolis Colts traded their 2014 1st round pick to the Cleveland Browns for Running Back Trent Richardson. The trade took the NFL by surprise as no trade to my recollection has ever been made this early in the season of this magnitude. For the Colts, this was in the wake of their third season ending injury to an offensive player with Dwayne Allen going on IR Wednesday Morning for hip surgery. The Colts also lost starting left guard Donald Thomas for the year due to a torn quadriceps that occurred in the game against Miami. Above all else, the Colts lost starting Running Back Vick Ballard for the year due to a torn ACL suffered during practice. Although the Colts had a level of depth at each position that was vacant due to injuries, Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson would not be complacent with that and moved to make a splash in the trade market and acquired Trent Richardson to help bolster the Colts running game.
Trent Richardson was selected 3rd overall in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns as they were looking to find a running back to replace Peyton Hillis. He would be regarded as the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson back in 2007. Richardson would come out of a gate with a very stellar rookie campaign.
- In 15 games played, Trent Richardson ran for 950 yards and 11 Touchdowns
- On the receiving end, he caught 51 passes for 367 yards and 1 Touchdown.
- In total, he had 1,317 yards All Purpose Yards and 12 Touchdowns.
- This season, he has 105 yards rushing and 51 yards receiving with no Touchdowns.
For comparisons sake, Adrian Peterson rushed for 1,341 yards and 12 Touchdowns while catching 19 passes for 268 yards and a touchdown giving him 1,609 all purpose yards and 13 Touchdowns.
Different perspectives could see this trade in both a positive light as well as a negative one. I feel it is important to understand the viewpoints of both in order to fully grasp and potentially appreciate the trade.
- The Colts finally get a running back they had not had since Edgerrin James left the Colts after the 2005 season. They have a running back they can call a staple of their young offense to go along with Andrew Luck, T.Y Hilton, and Coby Fleener. Richardson duals as a power back as well as a good pass catcher just like Edgerrin James was.
- The value of a first round pick is always high because the talent level of a pick could pay dividends. Not all great NFL players are selected in the 1st ten picks of a draft, just ask Joe Montana, Terrell Davis, and Tom Brady.
- That being said, the Colts are highly favored to make the playoffs or win the division thus making their 1st round pick a late one.
- Consider this, if the Colts had not made this trade, they will come into the 2014 season with Vick Ballard who returns from a torn ACL as their lone quality running back. Ahmad Bradshaw will be gone as he only signed a one year deal and Donald Brown’s contract expires after this season.
- Trent Richardson’s remaining salary is eatable for the Colts with it being $6.6 million for three years which is guaranteed money. For the talent Richardson brings to the Colts, it is more than welcome for how cheap he will be for the Colts for the next two seasons.
- The Colts offense this season has struggled to find a true identity with inconsistent play coupled with injuries. Perhaps Richardson could finally give the Colts identity with his playmaking abilities that would make the Colts a force not only through the air, but on the ground as well which is something they had not had since before the 2006 season.
- This team went from building in the draft in 2012 to patching up holes in free agency in 2013. With a roster that has solid depth of talent, perhaps a 1st round pick would not be necessary because Ryan Grigson is both happy with the current roster and could always find talent in the later rounds of the draft.
- The NFL has become a pass first league and having a dominant running back doesn’t equal post season success anymore. Gone are the days of when the likes of Shaun Alexander and LaDanian Tomlinson would break records galore and lead their teams to the playoffs and in Shaun Alexander’s case, the Super Bowl.
- Great running backs such as Chris Johnson, Maurice-Jones Drew, and Steven Jackson have all been to the postseason just one time each as their respective teams have had quarterback issues and consistent coaching changes to where they aren’t really able to put the team on their back the way.
- Giving up a 1st round pick on a position that can usually be built in later parts of the draft is very questionable because quality running backs can be found throughout the draft in different rounds. Running Backs such as Stevan Ridley, Demarco Murray, Frank Gore, and Jamaal Charles have all contributed to their team significantly and were chosen in the 3rd round. Let’s not forget that Ahmad Bradshaw was a 7th round pick and has had a stellar NFL season. The biggest one of them all would be Arian Foster who has led the league in rushing at one point and is a multi-time Pro Bowler. Oh by the way, Arian Foster went undrafted.
- The Colts offensive line still is not good in pass protection and from what I’ve seen of Richardson so far, he isn’t the best of pass blockers like how Vick Ballard is. Although things can change and there could be offensive schemes with Richardson in the fold that could prove positive in the Colts pass blocking, it could also very well regress or just stagnate.
Although the negatives are very true and alarming, I think the payoff with Trent Richardson on the Colts will pay dividends tenfold and get the Colts back to being the elite franchise it was during the 00’s. Jim Irsay clearly wants to win now and bring a Lombardi Trophy back home to Indianapolis. What’s even sweeter is that the Luck-Richardson-Hilton connection could very well be the next Manning-James-Harrison connection for years to come!
Strap yourselves in Colts fans, Jim Irsay strapped a rocket onto this franchise and it’s only going in one direction…