Trades like the one we saw this week, when the Browns shipped Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for the Colts’ 2014 first-round draft pick, don’t happen very often in the NFL. So it’s no surprise that the trade has been the most-discussed topic of conversation around the league.
Also no surprise is that there’s no consensus about who got the better end of the deal.
If you think the Colts won the trade, your thinking is simple: Indianapolis is a playoff contender, Richardson makes the Colts better at a position of need after they lost starting running back Vick Ballard for the season, and the Colts now have perhaps the most talented young quarterback-running back combination in football. At last year’s draft, just about any fan would have been thrilled with his or her favorite team getting either Andrew Luck or Trent Richardson. For the Colts to end up with both of them is awfully nice.
The case that the Browns won the trade is the long view: Yes, they’re giving up a talented player just a year and a half after they moved up in the draft to take him third overall. But the Browns are an 0-2 team with a long rebuilding road ahead of them, and adding an extra first-round pick is a big step toward making that rebuilding effort work. Plus, the Browns may have concluded that Richardson simply isn’t as good a player as he appeared to be heading into last year’s draft. Richardson is, after all, averaging just 3.5 yards a carry in his career. Cleveland may very well end up taking a better player than Richardson with the Colts’ pick next year, and the Browns also now have more ammunition to get what they really need next year: A franchise quarterback.
And, of course, both of the above choices could be true. This could be a good trade for the Colts because it gives their offense a big weapon, but also a good trade for the Browns because it aids their rebuilding effort. This might be a trade that helps both teams.
But the flip side is that this could be a trade that hurts both teams. The Browns just traded away a young talent they can build around, while the Colts — who already have enough offensive playmakers — gave up a first-round pick that they would have been better used bolstering their offensive line or their defense. Maybe we’ll look back in a few years and say the Browns would have been better off holding onto Richardson, while the Colts would have been better off holding onto their first-round draft pick.
And, of course, it’s reasonable to say that we really can’t determine a winner in the trade until we see how Richardson plays in a Colts uniform, and what the Browns do with that first-round pick.
So those are your options. PFT Planet, tell us what you think.