Cleveland traded the powerful running back to the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday, a stunning move just two games into this season and only one year after drafting Richardson 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 and 10 overall. Cleveland is rebuilding and the team hopes to use those picks – seven in the first four rounds – to help turn around a floundering franchise mired in losing for more than a decade.
Such a reversal was what the Browns had in mind when they took Richardson with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 draft.
The former Alabama seemed to have it all: power, speed and good hands.
But Richardson apparently isn’t the kind of back Cleveland’s front office wants for first-year coach Rob Chudzinski’s offensive system. Richardson, who rushed for 950 yards as a rookie despite playing most of last season with two broken ribs, gained just 105 yards on 31 carries in Cleveland’s two losses this season.
He lacked the explosiveness the Browns’ new regime was looking for, and it may not have helped that Richardson made it clear he wanted the ball more.
The shocking trade came on the same day Chudzinski announced that third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer will start Sunday against Minnesota. Hoyer got the nod over backup Jason Campbell to fill in for starter Brandon Weeden, who is sidelined with a sprained right thumb.
Like Richardson, Weeden’s days could be numbered in Cleveland, where the Browns have started 19 quarterbacks since 1999 and are still looking for the right one. Next year’s draft class includes several top-flight QBs and the Browns could be loading up on picks to make sure they get one.
In addition, the Browns are bringing in free agent running back Willis McGahee for a physical. A two-time Pro Bowl pick, McGahee was most recently with Denver, rushing for 731 yards in 10 games for the Broncos.
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.”
Richardson’s role with the Brown has been perplexing under Chudzinski. He only had 13 carries in the season opener against Miami and did not have one rushing attempt in the fourth quarter. Last week, he said he wanted more carries and had 18 in Sunday’s loss to the Ravens for 58 yards.
• Indianapolis has taken another hit in their starting lineup.
Tight end Dwayne Allen will miss the rest of the season with a hip injury that requires surgery, coach Chuck Pagano announced during his media session Wednesday.
Allen suffered the injury during Indianapolis’ season-opening victory against Oakland on Sept. 8.
Pagano indicated Monday that Allen’s injury wasn’t minor, hesitating before calling him day to day. Second-year tight end Coby Fleener will start in Allen’s place.
Allen is the third Colts starter to suffer a season-ending injury in less than a week.
BRONCOS: Peyton Manning will have a new left tackle protecting his blindside after the Denver Broncos placed Ryan Clady on season-ending injured reserve Wednesday.
Clady hurt his left foot Sunday when New York Giants defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins rolled up on him while the Broncos were trying to run out the clock in their 41-23 win. Clady will soon undergo surgery for what’s being called a Lisfranc tear, which involves a separation of ligaments and joints in the foot.
Chris Clark, a fifth-year journeyman, will take the place of Clady — the undisputed leader on the line — and make his first career start at left tackle Monday night when the Broncos (2-0) host the Oakland Raiders (1-1).
Clady has been a mainstay at left tackle, never missing a start since being selected in the first round in 2008 out of Boise State. He allowed just one sack last season, the fewest in the NFL. By keeping Manning so safe and secure, Clady made his third Pro Bowl team and was voted an All-Pro first-teamer for the second time in his career.
BUCCANEERS: Safety Dashon Goldson’s one-game suspension for a helmet-to-helmet hit on New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles has been reduced to a $100,000 fine. The NFL confirmed in a statement released Wednesday that Goldson won his appeal of the suspension. The two-time Pro Bowler will be eligible to play Sunday against the New England Patriots.
REDSKINS: Robert Griffin III is staying clear of the dispute over the team’s nickname.
The quarterback said Wednesday said the topic “is something way above my understanding.”
Said Griffin: “I’m not Native American, so I don’t know what to say about that. ... I just leave that to those who know a little bit more about the situation.”
The push to change the name has picked up momentum this year, spurred by those who consider it to be racist. A small group of American Indians staged a protest outside Lambeau Field during Washington’s game at Green Bay on Sunday.