BEREA, Ohio - The Browns traded running back Trent Richardson to the Colts on Wednesday, a stunning move just two games into this season and one year after drafting him in the first round.
Richardson was dealt for a first-round selection in next year’s draft, when the Browns will have two opening-round picks. Cleveland is rebuilding and the team hopes to use that pick to help turn around a floundering franchise mired in losing for more than a decade.
Such a turnaround was what the Browns had in mind when they took Richardson with the No. 3 overall pick in 2012.
But, Richardson apparently didn’t fit into the plans of Cleveland’s front office or new coach Rob Chudzinski’s offensive system. Richardson, who rushed for 950 yards as a rookie despite playing most of last season with broken ribs, had gained just 105 yards on 31 carries this season and didn’t have the breakaway speed the Browns new regime was looking for.
The shocking trade came on the same day Chudzinski announced third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer will start Sunday against Minnesota. Hoyer (Michigan State) got the nod over backup Jason Campbell to fill in for starter Brandon Weeden, who is sidelined with a sprained right thumb.
In addition, the Browns are bringing in free agent running back Willis McGahee for a physical and will sign him if he passes the test. A two-time Pro Bowl pick, McGahee was most recently with Denver.
Earlier Wednesday, Richardson talked to Minnesota reporters on a conference all about the pressure of living up to being such a high draft pick.
“I think people make it more pressure than what it is,” he said. “I just like to play football. At the end of the day, I’m going to play football like I’ve always been coached. The way I’ve always played. I’m going to be physical, fast, I’m going to be up-tempo, I’m going to be the one who’s trying to lead by example. No matter what, that’s a big reason why I fought through injury last year with broken ribs and two knee surgeries, because I know that being a first-round pick what the expectations are of you, and me being the man that I am, the athlete I am, I’m not going to sit down unless my legs are broke.
“So if I can still run and I can still catch the ball, I’m playing.”
Browns CEO Joe Banner said the decision to deal Richardson is in keeping with a plan to overhaul the team.
“Trent’s a great player and we expect him to have success in this league,” Banner said. “Right now, based on how we’re building this team for sustainable success, we’re going to be aggressive and do what it takes to assemble a team that consistently wins.”