He was touted as the future just one year ago, and now he's part of a long history of failed draft picks. Thousands of No. 33 jerseys were rendered useless before they even had a chance to get dirty.
But the trade isn't that crazy. It's a move that makes a lot of sense for both teams involved on a lot of levels, especially the Browns. Here's why:
Richardson's fit in the scheme: NFL Media's Albert Breer pointed out Wednesday that the Browns didn't see Richardson as a great fit for coach Rob Chudzinski's scheme. If Browns general manager Michael Lombardi and CEO Joe Banner were in Cleveland in 2012, there's no chance Richardson would have been selected No. 3 overall.
Richardson's production: At times, Richardson has flashed difference-making ability. He looked improved in the first two games this season, breaking many tackles. But he's averaged 3.5 yards in 298 carries. The Browns see him in practice every day and know him best. They didn't see him as a special talent, or they wouldn't have dealt him for what might be a mid-round first-round pick.
Richardson's makeup: There always are factors that we don't know about involved in trades. Richardson hasn't been consistently healthy since he entered the NFL, and there were whispers he arrived to the league more banged up than advertised. There also are questions about his approach.
But not everyone is surprised in Cleveland's locker room. One key Browns starter, asking for anonymity, tells me the trade "makes sense."â Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) September 18, 2013
A Browns starter tells me: "It makes sense. Trent has some things he needs to figure out before he becomes a dominant player in the league."â Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) September 18, 2013
Breer also said on-air that there were questions about Richardson's maturity. He's a young player the Browns liked, but it sounds like they believed he had some growing up to do.
"He's a good, solid guy. But he's 22," a Browns source told Breer.
Value of running backs: Right or wrong, Lombardi and Banner probably just don't value running backs that highly. NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah, who worked under Banner in Philadelphia, noted that the Eagles targeted their backs in the middle rounds of the draft. (And drafted two Pro Bowl players.) Lombardi publicly wasn't a big fan of Cleveland's selection of Richardson in 2012.
All about 2014: It looks like the team is giving up on this season, which is the hardest part for Browns fans to follow. They know Brandon Weeden isn't the answer at quarterback. The Browns are pushing their chips in the middle of the table, searching for the signal-caller who is the answer.
The trade means the Browns have extra picks in the first, third and fourth rounds of next year's draft. Lombardi and Banner are betting they can pick the right players, rather than using the players, such as Richardson, whom Mike Holmgren selected. The team theoretically will have the ammunition to move up for the quarterback it wants.
The way this season is going, the Browns might not have to move up very far.