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Trent Richardson trade is for Browns' future, CEO says

One of the most stunning moves in Cleveland Browns history came together in a hurry.

Browns CEO Joe Banner told reporters Wednesday that the trade that sent Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round draft pick wasn't even discussed until one day earlier.

The Colts needed help at running back after Vick Ballard sustained a season-ending knee injury. The Browns were ready to move on from a running back believed -- by outsiders, anyway -- to be a franchise cornerstone.

"The moment presented itself based on the situation the Colts found themselves in," Banner told reporters shortly after the trade was announced. "It wasn't something we could say, 'Can you wait three weeks and let us think about this or learn more?' We had to decide whether we thought it was a move that would make us better, and we had to make that decision now. We decided to move forward."

Less than 18 months earlier, a prior regime drafted Richardson third overall. According to coach Rob Chudzinski, the move wasn't about Richardson being a poor fit in Cleveland's offense.

"This really has nothing to do with Trent from that standpoint," the first-year coach said. "The opportunity as an organization was there for us to have the chance to get better ultimately. We felt like it was the right decision after all."

Banner seconded that thought.

"This wasn't something negative about Trent, as much as it was the value that we think we got in terms of what we feel we need to do to move the franchise forward and get it to where we want it to be," he said. "We thought this positioned us well to do that."

Chudzinski hadn't been able to reach Richardson at the time of the news conference, but he did contact the team captains.

"They were surprised at first, but they understand the business of this and that we need to go," he said. "It doesn't change anything from an expectations standpoint for us."

It's a tough sell for the team but also a fan base that's already had more than its fill of men in suits sitting on podiums talking about bright futures that never come.

Perhaps this will be the trade that finally turns the Browns' fortunes around. But skepticism isn't just expected. It's understood.

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