Corbin Smith

Trent Richardson A Gamble Worth Taking For Colts

Created on Sept. 18, 2013 7:38 PM EST

Wow. Nobody saw this move coming.

The Indianapolis Colts' acquisition of running back Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns can be summed up in two words: Unbelievable and unprecedented.

Trades like this one are rarely made in real life and normally happen when the "fair trades" rule is disabled on Madden. Richardson, who starred at Alabama and finished as a runner-up to Robert Griffin III in the Heisman Trophy balloting two seasons ago, was supposed to be the next Jim Brown in Cleveland. However, his stock must have dropped within the organization enough that when Jim Irsay came calling, he became expendable.

Look, this trade isn't necessarily a lock to be a success for the Colts. Richardson averaged a paltry 3.6 yards per carry during an up-and-down rookie season with the Browns, which would be on par with the production Indianapolis has received from former top pick Donald Brown. If he had performed better last season and had a better start this year, there's no way that even an inept Cleveland franchise would ship him off after such limited time with the team. Health concerns and maturity questions also remain with Richardson, who missed a few games last year and missed most of training camp with various ailments.

Oh, and don't forget, the Colts still have one of the worst offensive lines in the league and that unit will be worse after losing Donald Thomas for the season. That could be a problem even if Richardson does have the skills to be a workhorse back like Indianapolis needs.

Despite these concerns, Irsay had to make this move. As previously noted, Irsay is an avid twitter user and he's been talking big about finding a replacement for Vick Ballard since he went down last Thursday with a torn right ACL. If he would have brought in a lesser player or done nothing at all, he would have alienated the fan base. With Ballard and Dwayne Allen out for the rest of the season with serious injuries, the team had to bring in reinforcements- somehow-  to help this team stay afloat. The schedule is only going to get tougher for this young Colts squad, and adding Richardson gives the running game a punch it desperately lacked. Based on his college production, there's plenty of reason to believe that he can become a major impact player out of the backfield for Indianapolis.

In three seasons with the Crimson Tide, Richardson averaged nearly six yards per carry and found the end zone 35 times as a runner and another seven times as a receiver. He proved to be one of the toughest backs in the entire country, and performed so well that he left school with one year of eligibility remaining. Ahmad Bradshaw played well last week against the Dolphins and has a solid track record when healthy, but he's got fragile written all over him and he's not a power back. Richardson will fill that void immediately, and if he can start producing like a top five pick should, he and Andrew Luck will give defenses nightmares for the next decade.

This transaction has the potential to shift power in the AFC South this year and for years to come, barring that the offensive line for Indianapolis can perform well enough to open holes for Richardson and keep Luck in the pocket. As for Cleveland, the move has to be disheartening to a fan base that continually has to deal with rebuilding. Trading a first round pick one year after drafting the player shows poor management, but the current Browns regime didn't select him. The current coaching staff has seemed disinterested in making him a key part of the offense the first two games. Clearly they didn't think he fit into future plans, whether that be Rob Chudzinski or Mike Lombardi. Without a franchise quarterback and holes throughout the lineup, Cleveland decided that getting another first round pick in what has been hyped as a stacked draft would help bring in players that the staff sees as a better fit.

Only time will tell who "wins" this trade, but it's hard to envision the Colts not getting the better bargain here. Richardson is a young, powerful back that will benefit from playing for a franchise with a winning culture. He's probably really excited to be out of Cleveland and to join a potential contender.

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