General Manager Ryan Grigson pulled off a stunning blockbuster trade Wednesday evening, acquiring Trent Richardson from Cleveland in exchange for the Colts’ first-round pick in the 2014 draft.
The 5-9, 225-pound Richardson was drafted No. 3 overall by the Browns in 2012 and rushed for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie. He also caught 51 passes for 367 yards and another score. Richardson was off to a slow start this season with 105 yards on 31 carries, a 3.4 average.
He has battled injuries in his brief time in Cleveland, undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last August, and was bothered by broken ribs for much of last season.
Nevertheless, he did not miss a start and has career totals of 298 carries for 1,055 yards and 11 touchdowns, while adding 58 receptions for 418 yards and one touchdown.
The trade is a low-risk proposition for the Colts, given Richardson’s relative youth and the likelihood the pick they traded will be in the bottom third of the first round. It also gives them two of the top three selections from 2012, with Richardson joining No. 1 pick Andrew Luck.
It was a rare in-season trade in the NFL, especially one for just a young skill player like Richardson.
“Trent’s a great player and we expect him to have success in this league,” said Browns CEO Joe Banner. “Right now, based on how we’re building this team for sustainable success, we’re going to be aggressive and do what it takes to assemble a team that consistently wins.”
The Browns are expected to bring in veteran free agent Willis McGahee to fill their vacant starting running back spot. The 31-year-old McGahee, who ran for 731 yards with the Broncos last year, is scheduled to undergo a physical.
Drafted by former GM Tom Heckert, Richardson fell out of favor with the new Browns leadership team of GM Mike Lombardi and Coach Rob Chudzinski. The Colts have been looking for help at running back since losing starter Vick Ballard for the season with a knee injury last Thursday, but this goes well beyond expectations.
In three seasons at the Alabama (2009-2011), Richardson helped the school capture two national championships in 2009 and 2011. He recorded 3,130 career rushing yards and 35 touchdowns on 540 attempts (5.8 avg.), while adding 68 receptions for 730 yards and seven touchdowns. He also returned 28 kickoffs for 720 yards with one touchdown.