With the trade of running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday, the Cleveland Browns have officially punted the 2013 season. After losing their first two games and scoring just 16 total points, the Browns are throwing in the towel and hoping to build for the future.
Richardson may have struggled over the first two weeks of the season, rushing for only 105 yards and failing to find the end zone, but he’s Cleveland’s best offensive player and the only player that opposing defenses have reason to fear when facing the Browns. Without him, the Browns will have no go-to guy offensively, and will be exponentially more challenged to move the ball and score points.
Even with a defense that’s been tough over the first two games and one that has several talented players, the outlook for the rest of Cleveland’s season is bleak without Richardson.
Assuming Richardson was able to shake off a rough start and become more productive, which is a distinct possibility, the Browns could have stayed competitive this season between him and a tough defense, especially with two of their AFC North rivals appearing to take a step backwards this year.
But without Richardson, the Browns could be looking down the barrel of a disastrous season that nets only a few wins and ends with Cleveland receiving one of the top three picks in next year’s draft, which is not so ironically where they drafted Richardson in 2012.
The Browns will also get the Colts’ first-round pick next season, but that pick may not come until the latter part of the first round if Richardson is able to help Indianapolis make the playoffs, giving the Browns a less valuable pick the better Richardson plays.
Regardless of which player the Browns eventually get to draft with their extra first round pick next year, trading away Richardson is nothing short of giving up on the 2013 season. Doing so two games into the season seems a bit early and drastic, even for the Browns.