Why I don’t like the Trent Richardson trade… yet

MMQB Hates Trent RichardsonI have the feeling that there are more fans of the Trent Richardson trade than detractors at this point in time. That wasn’t the case on the day that the trade occurred, I don’t think. Those who claimed that the Browns were tanking the season (like I did) have been treated to a three game winning streak. Those who liked the trade have been treated to the same winning streak, but also seem to be claiming they are now correct about the Trent Richardson trade due to the fact that the Browns are winning without him right now. Combine that with T-Rich’s continued difficulty running the ball in Indianapolis with Andrew Luck and you have a perfect storm of people jumping to conclusions. I might learn to love the Trent Richardson trade. I’m willing to admit it might be a good move for the Browns, but I’m just not sure yet.

Let’s talk about the three game winning streak. This piece of “evidence” as to why the Trent Richardson trade was good is flimsy at best. The Browns did go on a three game winning streak after the trade of Trent Richardson, but they also switched quarterbacks to Brian Hoyer and got Josh Gordon back. To think that Trent Richardson was somehow holding the team back from winning is silly. Beyond that, is there anyone who thinks Trent Richardson wouldn’t also have benefitted from the return of Josh Gordon and the switch to Brian Hoyer? The bottom line for me is that Trent Richardson – while maybe not good enough for his draft position – clearly makes the Browns roster better than what it is today with McGahee, etc. How much better is up for debate of course, but I think it would be pretty undeniably better.

The Browns did get a first round draft pick for Trent Richardson. On the outside, that seems to be “good value” for a former first round running back with question marks surrounding his ability. I’ll gladly admit that much, but the trade detractors won’t own up to the rest of the facts as obvious potential downsides to the trade.

First of all, the Browns don’t have Richardson playing for them this season for 14 games. Those 14 games of production are worth something while they wait for the draft to use Indianapolis’ pick. I don’t know how well Trent Richardson would be playing for the Browns right now, but I would rather bet on him than Willis McGahee, Bobby Rainey and Chris Ogbonnaya.

Secondly, when the Browns traded Trent Richardson, they didn’t get to trade the cap hits from his signing bonus. The Browns are in a good cap position, so they can seemingly afford to take the hit, but it’s a big one. According to, Richardson’s “dead money” cap hit for next season is just north of $6.67 million. As you start projecting where Indianapolis’ pick projects to be in the first round as they take care of business against teams like the Seahawks, make sure you think of their pick with all that extra dead money too. I’m guessing Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner don’t really care that they just wasted Randy Lerner’s cash that went to Trent Richardson for his signing bonus, but it’s another layer to the trade that needs to be considered. Maybe the Browns don’t need any extra financial flexibility next season, but it’s not nothing.

Finally, I don’t like the Trent Richardson trade because it created another hole. I have real concerns about this team and their potential needs next season across the roster. I’m concerned about the fact that Alex Mack will be an unrestricted free agent. I’m concerned that T.J. Ward will be an unrestricted free agent. I’m concerned that the Browns don’t have a plan at offensive guard or at middle linebacker learning under D’Qwell Jackson. The Browns will also need to address the quarterback spot, if you ask me. I’ll save that for another post.

The point is that the Browns now have one extra pick, but they deferred production on the field today and created another need for the list. Maybe they can fill the running back need with a third or fourth rounder in this year’s draft, but there’s an opportunity cost. The rookie cap makes it so the Browns could afford to keep Trent Richardson without it crushing their salary cap. Now, they take a cap hit next year which they’ll survive, but they created another need when this team already had enough needs if you ask me. When the Browns said they could only add so many new players in a single year, I believe in that. Roster turnover stunts growth. Did they really need to turn over the running back position by trading Trent Richardson? It remains to be seen.

Now, the Browns obviously traded a guy they didn’t want and didn’t believe in. They made a bold, brash, aggressive move. I really do hope they get this whole thing right. I’m still very concerned that they didn’t. Right now, I’m still not a fan of the trade, but they can make me a believer. I just need this team to make strides forward and they can start by proving this off-season that trading Richardson wasn’t a step back.

  • BenRM

    Not to be a huge front office defender, but they did have Dion Lewis until he died. It’s my belief that they felt Lewis was the type of RB they desired.

    At that point he was hurt, who else was available? Without doing the research, my guess is that it was the same practice squad-type of guys the Browns have now.

  • BenRM

    Oh right! I forgot what DQ52 said. Thanks!

  • RGB

    Resistance is futile.
    Bannermetrics is the way.

  • Harv 21

    Lewis’s game is not every down back but I believe they thought Richardson’s inside the tackles power would be more effective as a counterpoint to Lewis running wide or running short patterns. Norv really knows how to spread the field. We see this in the wide open areas where he has Cameron running routes in single coverage.

  • BenRM

    A good point.

    I guess my larger point was that, regardless of the FO’s evaluation of Richardson, they had a plan. Lewis was the “secondary option” mgbode references.

    However, the plan fell apart when Lewis broke his leg.

  • Harv 21

    yeah, that’s about as close as the team captain can get to calling out the supposed young franchise player without actually saying “It’s time for him to grow the hell up.”

  • humboldt

    [Paging Jacob Rosen…paging Jacob Rosen]

  • Natedawg86

    Exactly. You see a guy that hesitates before contact, seems to make one more move than needed, didn’t seem to really make the first guy miss or break takles.

  • Natedawg86

    we need to stop fearing what richardson could turn into, and start getting excited about the incoming R.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Word. For the record, I actually do think he’s pretty good at breaking tackles, but it’s not doing him any good because his momentum completely stops when he does break a tackle.

  • mgbode

    Dion Lewis is a decent counter-point, but I don’t think/hope they ever were planning on him being an everydown back. He’s a smaller guy who had a total of 36 carries in 2 seasons in the NFL.

  • Harv 21

    The focus of my comment was not Richardson but that the Browns running game looked better with Hoyer than it will under Weeden.

    Regarding Richardson count me skeptical as of this year’s game 1. Last year he had a knee and played with broken ribs. I’ve written here many times that what I looked for this year was the extra gear of a top of draft back who runs in his style, like that of Jamal Lewis and Jerome Bettis. But when healthy Trent broke tackles he didn’t explode into the secondary, he burrowed, leaned and twisted for a few more. I mean, even the young Kevin Mack, Ernest Byner and William Green periodically popped long ones (won’t even go into the hit the hole issues). With a good o-line Trent can be a clock-grinder, but you can get that guy anywhere. Maybe Indy watched ‘Bama tapes, thinks the Browns messed him up and that their coaches can fix him. I think Banner had a full year to watch Trent on and off field and maybe sold Indy a bill of goods.

  • Natedawg86

    I don’t think i agree wholeheartedly on #1. He has had 3 games now. How hard is it (mentally) to learn some of the run plays.

  • Natedawg86

    Craig – Part of it is a coping mechanism. However hot and special your X Girlfriend was, you have to think about all of the negatives to justify the split. Plain and simple.
    You have to give the guy the ball 18 times for a 10 yard and a 16 yard run, with the other 16 runs netting a total of 30 yards?

  • nj0

    Dag. Really small. 5’7, 190.

  • Natedawg86

    At least he is consistent

  • Harv 21

    agree. It’s not like average running backs are a rarity in the NFL. Every year it seems a guy who was working at Home Depot last year rushes for 700 yards. They sure didn’t mind frenetic dumpster diving after training camp when it came to kickers.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    I didn’t mean I’d agree, just that those would be arguments. I didn’t particularly find any of the points in the post to be even remotely compelling.

  • Shane H

    Ahmad Bradshaw ran against that same San Fran D and had 19 for 95. JAX everyone runs against them, Rams just had a 7th rd pick in his first start go 14 for 78 before leaving because he was banged up.
    Not trying to say your opinion is wrong Craig, just some of the reasoning behind his struggles with the Colts don’t hold water.

  • nj0

    Maybe Weeden would do better if he went with a shorter state like Maine? (joke blatantly stolen from an episode of Cheers)

  • James Workman

    Rumors floating that 49ers and Browns are discussing a deal for Josh Gordon.

  • nj0

    Derrick Mason is waiting for the phone to ring.

  • mgbode

    Kaepernick & Bowman. I’ll take that deal and even toss in Weeden for their troubles.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    For kicks, I broke down the actual carries of Trent vs. all other RBs (I excluded WRs/QBs/others) in 2012-2013. Makes him look really, really bad…

    Trent 297-1,061, 3.6. Others 143-599, 4.2.

    Total # of carries of X yards:
    20+: Trent 2, Others 3
    15+: Trent 6, Others 6
    10+: Trent 15, Others 13
    5+: Trent 99, Others 50
    0 or Neg: Trent 60, Others 22

    Note that that’s with Trent getting slightly over 2x the total carries. So he’s hitting far less big runs, and far more 0 or negative yardage runs per rush than the others.

    On 1st-and-10:
    Trent 149-596, 4.0. Others 75-305, 4.1.

    By down:
    2nd: Trent 113-386, 3.4. Others 51-232, 4.5.
    3rd: Trent 20-47, 2.4. Others 11-66, 6.0.
    3rd and 2 or less: Trent 10-15. Others 6-18.


  • Bryan

    This is nice.

  • nj0

    Interesting. Nicely done. Of course, the defense to this is broken ribs!!!

  • James Workman

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Thank you. 🙂

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Hehe! So of course this made me look at this year…

    Trent 3.4, Others 3.8.
    Trent 1st downs improved to 4.6, others only 3.4.
    But 2nd/3rd downs Trent 1.2, others 4.4.

    And he still has the higher ratio of 0-neg yard plays and lower 10+.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Oooh, here’s a fun one, YPC by quarter:

    Others: 4.1, 3.9, 4.8, 4.0.
    Trent: 3.9, 3.8, 3.5, 2.8.

    That *seems* like as the game goes on he doesn’t wear them down, they just get better at wrapping him up fast.

  • Phil Smith

    I think it’s pretty undeniably unclear if Richardson would make this team better. He didn’t produce much for the Browns yet after they traded him, production stayed the same. Richardson is producing as much in Indy as he did in Cleveland. He’s not a top 10 back in the NFL yet the Browns got AP-like value for him. So I don’t know how you can possibly say they deferred on field production today for a draft pick when production has been the same. I don’t get it? They created another hole? In the least important position in the NFL? What about the black hole in that important position that lines up behind the center? No mention of that. Just sounds like a piece for someone looking for reasons to be negative about trading a 3.1 YPC back. Get over yourselves, Cleveland. He’s NOT Adrian Peterson…..

  • Kildawg

    I see your point here. You’re wondering how Banner is going to use that pick. Will he get a solid player or pull a Humgrum and blow the pick on an older player that likely reached his peak in college against mediocre teams?

  • Except that the Browns running game was just as bad if not worse under Hoyer than it was when Richardson was on the field.

    The run game numbers were bloated against Minnesota because of the fake punt and Josh Gordon’s 22-yard run. When you take into account the running backs, the numbers are just as bad if not worse with McGahee and Rainey.

    It’s one thing to say the Browns were OK to get a future asset for Richardson. It’s something entirely different to try and say they have improved the running game since trading Richardson.

  • bupalos

    He’s as good as maybe half the bigger backs in the league at getting 1-2 yards when there isn’t penetration in the backfield. So he’s decent on the goalline. That and the possibility that the previous regime quite deliberately forced their redzone offense through him (because they had by selecting him so high staked their reputation on him) I think explains the TD number that is so wildly off track with his general production numbers.

  • bupalos

    Yeah, definitely plan to. But finding more than 20 minutes these days is tough.

  • nj0

    All I know is that Jerome Harrison put up better numbers on equally bad if not worse teams.

  • Henry Brown

    I was thinking of Kruger who alluded to locker room issues but wouldn’t say what they were.

  • bossman09

    Simple conversation – they got 1st round value (lets say pick #26) for a player that clearly doesn’t have 1st round value. Consider the question this way. Which would you rather have? Richardson or Gordon? If you read the post about Gordon, people are 50-50 about trading him for a 2nd round pick.
    Regardless of the cap hit, or his blocking, or his back field receiving, it’s pretty clear that even pick #32 is worth more than what Richardson gives you for the next 3 years.

  • Big Z

    We can’t judge the merits of the trade until we see how the Browns use the pick. Also, Matt Flynn is available, Craig. You still want him to start for us?

  • Trent sucks. Period.

  • Tony

    McGahee excites me more than T-Rich, and thats the god’s honest truth.

  • Stephen Richmond

    Looking at the last 2 games, Richardson and Mcgahee have put up comparable stats, so I can’t really buy into the argument the Browns gave up productivity this year – at least not yet. If they want to draft their franchise QB in the spring, they need to stop trying to be too clever hoping to find Tom Brady value in a late first round or higher pick. They will need to trade into a top 3 draft spot and the pick from Indy gives them the flexibility to do that.