After a record two weeks without being in the conversation for biggest laughingstock in the NFL, the Cleveland Browns made a splash Wednesday by trading their first-round pick from a year ago, Trent Richardson, to the Colts for a first-round pick in the 2014 Draft.
The move waves a white flag over Cleveland’s season just two games in, though to be fair the team was heading into the year with about as much of a chance as Custer’s cavalry.
Still, it is a stunning move when you consider the Browns traded UP to the No. 3 spot in the draft to take Richardson just a year ago. John Matuszak is the only other top three NFL pick to be sent to another team this early in his career. And that was only because the Oilers got pissed off because he attempted to play a game with the World Football League’s Houston Texans despite a restraining order that banned him from simultaneously playing for two teams.
Believe it or not, there are actually people in this world who think this is a good deal for the Browns.
CBS Sports NFL expert Jason La Canfora went as far as to call it a “no-brainer” for Cleveland, and he didn’t even mean it in the sense that no one in the Browns organization has a brain.
One of his arguments is that the move gives the Browns two first-round picks next year, which allows them to better build for the future.
Wait… you mean like the two first-round picks they had last year in Richardson and quarterback Brandon Weeden, both of whom the franchise has now given up on?
I know it’s a new front office, but if there is one thing the Browns have continually proven with their first-round picks since returning to the league in 1999, it’s that it doesn’t matter who the general manager is. His pick is probably going to suck.
1999: QB Tim Couch, No. 1 overall. Sucked.
2000: DE Courtney Brown, No. 1 overall. 19 career sacks in six seasons.
2001: DT Gerard Warren, No. 3 overall. Productive career, mostly for the teams he played on after the Browns.
2002: RB William Green, No. 16 overall. 2,109 career rushing yards in four seasons.
2003: C Jeff Faine, No. 21 overall. First Browns first-rounder of the new era to make a Pro Bowl. He did it for the Saints, in 2007.
2004: TE Kellen Winslow II, No. 6 overall. The “motherfuckin’ soldier” actually made the Pro Bowl as a Brown, but was traded to Tampa Bay after criticizing Cleveland management for the team’s staph infection problem.
2005: WR Braylon Edwards, No. 3 overall. Do we even need to talk about this fool?
2006: LB Kamerion Wimbley, No. 13 overall. Picked over nose tackle Haloti Ngata, who is considered the tops in the league at his position in the 3-4 scheme.
2007: OT Joe Thomas, No. 3 overall. Remember when the Ghostbusters finally get a call, and Jeanine screams “WE GOT ONE!!!!” (I just gave you the link, so you probably should). In the Browns case that is Thomas, a perennial Pro Bowler.
QB Brady Quinn, No. 22 overall. HAHAHAHA.
2008: They gave this pick to the Cowboys for the ability to draft Brady Quinn. HAHAHAHAHAHA.
2009: C Alex Mack, No. 21 overall. Made the Pro Bowl in 2010.
2010: CB Joe Haden, No. 7 overall. He will make a Pro Bowl some day. Two in a row? We’re on a roll!
2011: DT Phil Taylor, No. 21 overall. Made the all-Rookie Team.
After a ton of misses the Browns finally got something decent out of their first-round selections from the three seasons preceding last year’s Richardson-Weeden draft. But they have certainly struck out both times they’ve coupled a quarterback with another first-round pick, which should concern anyone about their ability to get it right next year.
The real no-brainer here is for the Colts. People point out Richardson has only averaged 3.5 yards per carry in his young career, but I’d like to know what percentage of his runs have come with the opposing defense stuffing eight men in the box. Nobody’s going to be able to employ that strategy with Andrew Luck behind center and T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne as downfield threats.
In theory, this could work out for the Browns in the long run. But as history shows us, counting on them to actually get it right in the draft is asking for a lot. And have fun getting 53 players motivated for the remaining 14 games you’ve already given up on.