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Trent Richardson trade reportedly initiated by Browns

Owner Jim Irsay's legendarily chaotic tweeting paid off for the Indianapolis Colts this week. When Irsay sent out word that his general manager was itching to wheel-and-deal for a running back, it didn't take long for the Cleveland Browns to come calling with an intriguing offer.

It was the Browns -- not the Colts -- who initiated Trent Richardson trade talks, The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot reported Thursday, citing several league sources.

The overhauled Browns front office saw an opportunity to unload a player who has yet to live up to the lofty expectations of the previous regime, which surrendered four draft picks for the rights to Richardson.

Taking advantage of the honeymoon year in Cleveland, the new Browns brass threw in the towel on the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, conceded that the No. 22 overall pick in the same draft might lose his job to vagabond Brian Hoyer and demoted the No. 59 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Greg Little, out of the starting lineup.

The day's events had to leave the team's fan base wondering if the virtuous circle of stability ever will carry the day, or if fans simply are doomed to a vicious cycle of the excuse-making and responsibility-shifting that naturally accompanies one rebuilding effort after another.

It's fair to infer that the Browns questioned Richardson's long-term durability after considering his two knee surgeries, broken ribs, ankle sprain and shin injury in just over a year with the team.

It's also fair to point out that Colts general manager Ryan Grigson pulled off a heist, as long as Richardson isn't damaged goods at age 22. Now that the Browns already have paid the entirety of Richardson's $13.34 million bonus, Indy is only on the hook for reasonable base salaries averaging $2.25 million over the next three years.

Although Richardson is averaging a troublesome 1.6 yards after contact in his young career, it's worth noting that his overall production through 17 games is eerily similar to that of Emmitt Smith, LaDainian Tomlinson and Ricky Williams at the same stage.

Between the injuries, Browns fans rarely had a chance to see Richardson at the peak form that led pundits to laud him as, not only the most complete player in last year's draft, but also the best running back prospect to enter the league since Adrian Peterson.

Grigson, who cut his teeth as a longtime scout before landing the Colts job, is confident that Richardson still passes the eye test as a "special" talent.

The videos below from Weeks 2 and 5 of the 2012 season -- before Richardson played through multiple cracked ribs -- back up Grigson's analysis.

There's a reason why Ravens players are thanking Colts coach Chuck Pagano for removing Richardson from their annual schedule.

Get excited, Colts fans. Your new bell cow expects to "play and play a lot" at San Francisco on Sunday.

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