Bill Simmons on Trent Richardson trade: It’s an NBA-like move

Grantland’s Bill Simmons wrote this afternoon about the blockbuster Trent Richardson trade. In the article, he shared a number of various reactions he had, with this being the headliner:

“Could Cleveland be the first NFL team to steal my NBA-centric concept of “It’s better to bottom out than be stuck in no-man’s-land?” In the NBA, you either want to be really good or really bad (with no in-between). … That concept never trickled into the NFL … Well, until this week. And that’s the most compelling part of this Richardson trade: For the first time, an NFL team is thinking like an NBA team. Fifteen years of futility nudged them there.”

Calling it the “ballsiest NFL trade in years”, Simmons did spell out a number of various scenarios that could happen with this trade. Notably, the Browns could be leading a new wave of established, accepted and value-added tanking in the NFL, much like the NBA. But the Colts also could be revving up for a new post-Peyton Manning dynasty.

All in all, Simmons was quite optimistic from the perspective of the Browns. He shared their frustrations and wrote again how only teams with elite quarterbacks contend in the new passing-oriented NFL. His research on when running backs have been drafted over time was really interesting. He also made a good point to share some of the pessimism about Richardson’s success so far.

Of course, anything The Sports Guy writes about the Browns has to be taken with a sizable grain of salt because of his long-time (and noted within the article) friendship with Michael Lombardi. Heck, before he even got into any actual unique analysis of the trade, Simmons pined in one reaction that, if all goes horribly, horribly wrong, “Lombardi will be back on my podcast in time for the 2014 draft!”

On a final side note, one of the neatest things about Simmons’ article: He cited the incredible website DraftBrowns.com at one point with reference to this article. Kudos to Justin Higdon and the gang for all their excellent work. They deserve the extra traffic there.

[Related: Rooting interests versus tanking interests: Keepin’ it Real]

  • CB Everett

    Grain of salt aside, another Grantland piece lauded the trade too, CBS sports, ESPN, etc and other national pubs as well. I know it’s not as fun or cathartic as a Lombardi Lynching party, but zooming out gives much needed perspective on this whole thing. And in all of this, I haven’t heard many credible sources stating that the trade itself wasn’t a good one for CLE. I know my view is an unpopular one, but there’s that.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    The reason you haven’t heard many credible sources state that the trade was bad for Cleveland was because even with Richardson the team was going to be bad anyways. It just wasn’t going to be as bad with him. I read quite a few mixed reactions in fact more then a few who really liked the trade for the Colts.

    I don’t know if Simmons is right but when you are a national topic of conversation it underlines the fact that trades like this do not happen after just two weeks of a season. When a team as bad as this football team trades one of it’s better players after just two weeks it’s questionable.

    The only thing bigger would be if they traded either Joe Thomas or Joe Haden.

  • FearTheRoo

    Still plenty of time to trade Thomas or Haden. But I think Josh Gordon is most likely next.

    Hopefully the Browns believe the defense is set. So ONLY the offense needs a complete rebuild. But who knows what they’re thinking at this point.

  • unrly

    I liked this article by Simmons. It made sense about the NBA-type trade. Maybe Chris Grant spent a day in Berea?

    One thing I still don’t understand, which nobody seems to be touching on, is where has Lombardi been? The “GM” has been absent in all of this, Banner and Chud being the ones to discuss the move. Lombardi keeps getting credit, but I don’t think I’ve heard him comment once about it. Was this a Banner move overruling Lombardi (who supposedly loved Richardson)? I’m just really confused by this.

    Sidenote: You guys really need someone to edit before you put articles out. I’ve seen misspellings in every article I’ve read in the past few days.

  • @TheDeePagel

    Great point. That is VERY refreshing knowing that only a rebuild on offense is needed this time around. Makes this a bit easier to stomach.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Lombardi is in the closet more then happy to be out of the limelight. What he doesn’t realize is that the closet is labeled “scapegoat.”

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Well if they got a first for Richardson I would have to believe either Thomas or Haden would net the same. This would give them even more first round picks so that when they don’t finish last they can trade up to ensure they draft their so-called franchise QB.

    Gordon won’t bring a first back in a trade not by a mile.

    And the defense isn’t set. They still need another CB if Haden survives. They could use a safety as well as a bonafide starting linebacker.

  • maxfnmloans

    “LOMBARDI!!! Fetch me my slippers!”

  • mgbode

    Simmons lauds trade made by buddies Lombardi and Scheiner. Consider me flabbergasted.

    I get the tanking idea and I’m going to watch more college. But, he also definitively states we are the first team to go this route (uh….Indy? is 2 seasons ago really that long?).

    The bigger question is what happens if we don’t get in a spot to get the QB we want?

  • maxfnmloans

    what happens? they have a press conference telling us the reasons why they drafted a running back in the top 5 and Browns Stadium is finally sucked into the seventh circle of hell. Too fatalistic?

  • CB Everett

    Interesting story lines to watch: 1. If TRich tears it up (imagine the groaning!) 2. TRich tears his ACL (redemption for trading an injury prone RB?) 3. McGahee performs as well (or as poorly) as TRich has or even outperforms him.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I expect Richardson to be just fine after all he’s now in an offense that not only has a stud QB but multiple WRs as well as TE. The only thing the Colts don’t have is a great OL so it’ll be interesting to say the least to see what Richardson does behind them.

    As for McGahee I have to laugh I mean he’s older, was not with any team, hasn’t played since Denver dumped him and has a sketchier health history then Richardson yet people think he’s a legitimate replacement. C’mon man!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I don’t that Colts team traded away players though did they? They certainly didn’t trade one of their best players before week 3. That’s a huge difference to me.

    As for your bigger question that’s just part of it. Not only will they have to be in a position but there will have to be at least two (I say two because I can’t imagine them being worse then Jacksonville although it may be close) viable QBs.

    I hate to belabor the point but I really envision a very real possibility of a repeat of 2012.

  • WFNYJacob

    * I don’t know if it would have been bigger, from a fans’ perspective, if they traded Thomas or Haden instead. Trent was the fan favorite — and the most recent big-money offensive playmaker added.

  • WFNYJacob

    Feel free to share some of the misspellings. We’re always happy to correct. If we could afford editors, we would. But we do the best we can and always try to fix things. Thanks for the feedback.

  • mgbode

    They went into the season with curtis painter starting among other things. They were after Luck and everyone knew it.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I think this city would have erupted had it been Haden not even close. If it had been Thomas the people who know the game who have seen how bad this OL has been would be very upset but not as much if it had been #23.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Yea I remember well mostly but is that really different then starting a season with say Charlie Frye or Brady Quinn? And more importantly they didn’t trade say someone like Reggie Wayne either.

  • unrly


    Not a problem, I just felt bad pointing them out specifically. I totally understand the editors part, you guys pump out articles quickly, which I think is more valuable.

  • ???

    you think that defense is done? no CB2 no FS and after ward walks no SS. banner will probably cut rubin too, after all he’s being paid market rate.

    plus now we’ve got a hole at RB.

    so they’ll go from six holes last offseason (patching one, LB) and to that add RB, SS, C, DE, WR1. i expect ten holes to fill next offseason.

    don’t kid yourself that next year’s draft will herald a turnaround year. banner is setting the hook for 2017/2018. enjoy.

  • Beef

    You can’t do in the NFL what you can in the NBA, where one or two elite players can radically change a team that puts five on the court at a time. A solid football team needs 22 solid starters, 10 solid situation players and 10 solid backups. This is especially true for defense, where one weak spot can be ruthlessly exploited.

    As far as putting everything on the shoulders of an elite QB, good luck. How many truly “elite” QB’s are there in the league right now? Brady, Rodgers and Manning, sure. Brees maybe. Do Wilson and Kaepernick’s good first year as starters mean they are elite? Does RGIII’s struggles in the first two games this year mean he is not? Was Flacco considered elite before last year’s playoff run? Does Calvin Johnson make Stafford elite?

    An excellent O-Line, stud receivers and a tough running back go a long way toward making a QB look elite.

  • Beef

    Football is the teamiest of team sports.

  • Dustyn

    They may not have traded a player, but they certainly dropped one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game.

  • dan

    That’s the worst analysis yet. He spends forever arguing the importance of an elite QB — point accepted, no doubt — then suggests that the Indy pick would be enough to trade up with the Jags to get Bridgewater. Did he not read his own analysis? Did he not see what it cost to get RG3? If the Browns are not drafting #1, they’re not getting the #1 QB. A piddling, middle of the first round pick won’t make a difference. Nobody would take that trade down. He explains why himself.

    But actually, that’s not the worst part. He argues that the Browns are tanking — no kidding — then claims that it’s justified because they need an elite QB. He cites the examples:

    Every 2013 contender employs either an elite QB (Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, New England, Green Bay, New Orleans, Atlanta) or a decent-enough QB that they can’t be ruled out (Chicago, Miami, Houston, maybe K.C.).

    And where did these QBs come from? In order: third round, second round, free agency, sixth round, 22nd pick of the first round, free agency, first pick of the draft, trade, eighth pick, trade, trade. That’s one out of 11 that needed the first pick of the draft and a second that went in the top ten. So why is tanking necessary to get one of these QBs?

  • saggy

    i TOTALLY agree!!! did he all of the sudden forget “Suck For Luck”????

  • saggy

    well, color me tickled. that’s a sprightly analysis there. Love the last paragraph.

    I dont think i need to keep saying it but i will – Simmons is a hack.

  • mgbode

    yes, sadly. also, they let veterans walk, they went with practice squadders. they kept veterans on injured lists way longer than normal. would have to dig up the old posts or redo the research, but they did their due diligence.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Man I hope Lombardi doesn’t remember that because they still have 14 weeks left!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Well you forgot to mention that great QB did have a little thing called neck surgery. I’m pretty sure not knowing if he’d be able to walk let alone throw a football had something to do with their decision.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Yo momma!

  • Sam

    The Colts were a consistent playoff team and expected to at least compete without Manning. If “Suck foe Luck” happened, it certainly didn’t begin before week 3.

  • Kenny_Chill

    This analysis is epic.

  • Kenny_Chill

    How many bottom tier NBA teams have traded away one of their best players for a draft pick from a decent team? Golden State, maybe? The Celtics when they had Rick Pitino?

    Why are the Browns only going half-way with the tank job? Why not trade Thomas, Mack, and Hayden, too?

    How many great players did Lombardi draft at Oakland with their perpetual high draft picks?

  • mgbode

    let’s agree to disagree then

  • Kildawg

    Only reason Indy 2 seasons ago decided to “Suck For Luck” (and eventually did) was because some guy named Peyton Manning got hurt. Colts still held out some hope by keeping him on active roster most od that year too.

  • @TheDeePagel

    Why stick around to watch it/complain about it then? Your optimism is glowing.