One argument put forth as to why the Browns would trade a young, face-of-the-franchise running back for one pick is that the new regime, headed by a new owner, a new general manager, and a new head coach, wanted to build Cleveland into a winner using their own hand-picked players. It looks like they want nothing to do with who was in town before them. This obviously doesn't sit well with Mike Holmgren, the president of the Browns until the end of last season, and the man who drafted Trent Richardson with the third overall pick last year. He didn't mince words when asked for his opinion on the trade Thursday.
"Philosophically, if I am the coach and someone came in anywhere and did that, I'd say 'OK, fire me, or I'm going to quit. Or we're going to both go into the owner and talk about this and then we'll see who's still standing,'" Holmgren said in a radio interview. "... How do you make your team better by trading your best player? [Richardson is] the best offensive player. He's a valuable, valuable guy.''
Holmgren also called the move a "knee-jerk reaction" by the Browns after a slow start to this season.
And now this season is pretty much lost in Cleveland. They are looking to 2014 and beyond. Granted, Holmgren's opinion on the matter doesn't mean much; he's basically defending the last first-round pick he chose.
I hope it works out for Cleveland, because I want that team to be competitive on a regular basis, but I have the same question as Holmgren: How do you give up on a 22-year-old workhorse running back after a little more than a year -- a productive one at that -- for one pick that will probably be around 20th overall next year? The fact that the Browns initiated the talks with the Colts and struck a deal in about 24 hours is evidence that they wanted Richardson gone and quickly. I don't know what, but it seems like something didn't mesh between the player and the franchise.
Holmgren also describes a very interesting conversation he had with Colts general manager Ryan Grigson prior to the 2012 draft in which Holmgren seriously offered him all of Cleveland's draft picks for the chance to take Andrew Luck at No. 1. He said Grigson didn't take him seriously, but Holmgren was serious. He also said Grigson told him the Colts would take Richardson at No. 3 if they did pull of that crazy, Ricky Williams-to-the-Saints kind of deal. And now, a mere 511 days after that draft, the Colts own both players.
I would shy from using Richardson this week, especially against a very angry 49ers defense at home, but he is going to be a beast for the rest of this year. An improved running game should help open things up for Luck, Reggie Wayne , T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener , etc. In other words, the Colts now have one of the most attractive offenses for fantasy purposes. And considering the ages of the main cogs here minus Wayne, this can be a dynamite offense for years to come.