The Cleveland-Indianapolis trade: Who won? Who lost?

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In today’s NFL, rarely do we see trades go down like the one we saw yesterday. Cleveland sending 2012 first round pick running back Trent Richardson to the Colts took us all off guard. Within a few hours of the trade, I was reading stories about what a poor trade this was for Cleveland. I don’t agree with that. Colts owner Jim Irsay was tweeting about a monster trade. Was it a “monster” trade? It was a surprise, but we won’t know the real results for a few years.

The trade does help the Colts for this season. They lost their top running back Vick Ballard to injury for the rest of the season. Richardson and Ballard are similar type backs, so the Colts shouldn’t lose a beat. What hasn’t been written is that the Colts have also lost tight end Dwayne Allen who was their blocking tight end. This may have an effect on their run game going forward this season.

When you look at stats, Ballard’s stats from 2012 were similar to Ricardson’s. Ballard ran for 814 yards and a 3.9 yard average, while Richardson ran for 950 yards and a 3.6 average in Cleveland. Ballard’s injury was not a career ending injury, it was a season ending injury. Next year he will be back and then they will have 2 similar backs in their backfield. Is that worth the first round pick that they gave up to get Richardson? I don’t think so. Richardson is a good back. He is not a special back, and his physical run style leaves him prone to injury (he has already had a few). I feel confident in saying in 3 years he will not be as good as he is today. So in essence, Indianapolis gave up an awful lot to fill a short term problem at the running back position.
In Cleveland, from a personnel viewpoint, the cupboard is empty or, at least, far from full. The 2011 draft was a disaster (and that was not the doing of Banner and Lombardi). Cleveland took a power back with the 3rd pick in the first round and came back and took a 29 year old quarterback later in that round. They followed that up by using a 2nd round pick in the supplemental draft for a raw receiver with character problems. None of those players are good long term answers for the Browns. Premium picks were used on these players!

Going forward, Cleveland has to find quality players. As of now they already have 2 picks in both the first and third rounds of next year's Draft. Depending on where their top pick is, this could put them in position to trade up to the top of the first round to get a franchise type player, or be patient and stock the roster with quality players. Losing Richardson will not have much of an effect on this year’s team. He was not a perfect fit for their offense as it was. In the first two games ran for only 105 yards. If the Browns do, in fact, sign Willis McGahee, he and current backup Bobby Rainey will give them close to the production that Richardson gave them.

The Browns have to think about the future of the franchise. With or without Richardson, they weren’t going to be a playoff team in 2013. The trade helps give them the ammunition needed to become a playoff team in the future. If the Browns do a good job drafting next May, then the long term winner of this trade has to be the Browns. This was a very good move by Banner and Lombardi.

Follow me on Twitter – @greggabe

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