Ironically, I just happened to be playing “Madden” when I heard that the Cleveland Browns dealt Trent Richardson — the stellar young running back the Brownies actually moved up in the 2012 draft to select — to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick. It’s a move only conceivable in the virtual world, where literally anything is possible.
But apparently, it’s possible in real life, too.
Cleveland literally gave up its best offensive player in exchange for one, solitary first-round pick – a pick that will undoubtedly be far less valuable than the third overall pick they used on Richardson in the first place. There are rumblings that the new Browns front office was less than thrilled by the notion that a running back was taken that high by the old regime, but they’re just as misguided as their predecessors if that had any bearing whatsoever on their decision-making. Richardson, at this point, is simply an asset. It doesn’t matter how he was acquired. He’s on your roster and you use him.
The thinking here is that Cleveland is positioning itself to move up in the 2014 draft to take a franchise QB. Even though the Richardson deal gives the Browns plenty of ammo (they’ll have two picks in the first, third and fourth rounds of the upcoming draft), I find that logic to be flawed. We don’t know exactly who’s available yet, let alone if there’s a quarterback worth a high pick. Furthermore, there’s no guarantee there’d be a trade partner willing to give up being in position to take a young passer (again, assuming there’s one even worth it).
Yes, running back has become a largely fungible position in the NFL. Alfred Morris and Arian Foster are two of the most productive backs in the league, and they were acquired in the sixth round of the draft and as a rookie free agent, respectively. But that doesn’t mean you can just pick one off a tree somewhere in Week 3 of the regular season.
The Browns serve as examples, too. They’re now starting the undrafted Bobby Rainey (who this week carried the ball for the first time in a regular-season NFL game), and he’s backed up by the 32-year-old Willis McGahee (who rushed for a whopping 9 yards on eight carries after getting signed off the street the day after the trade).
For the Colts, this looks like a huge coup at great value. Richardson’s first carry as a Colt was a touchdown, and he perhaps gives Andrew Luck (you know, the new Peyton Manning) his very own Edgerrin James. If Sunday is any indication, this could shift the balance of power in the AFC South back in Indy’s favor after only a couple of seasons out of the driver’s seat.
Obviously, we can’t truly evaluate this trade until we see how the Browns use their picks. But this move just feels like they’ve given up on the 2013 season at a time when it’s just beginning.
Sorry, Cleveland. Looks like that factory of sadness just churned out another heartbreaker.
Speaking of heartbreak …
Chiefs 26 Eagles 16
I told Philly fans last year: Be careful what you wish for. Just as karma would dictate, on a night when Andy Reid returned to town as Kansas City coach (let’s call it “Reid’s Revenge”) and Donovan McNabb had his number retired, Philly fans were again reminded that their years with Reid and McNabb were the best they’ve ever known — and not easily replicated.
Lions 27 Redskins 20
For those keeping score at home, the last time the Lions went on the road and beat the Redskins, FDR was president and the ‘Skins were calling Fenway Park home. That makes this is the first time ever the Lions have beaten the Redskins in Washington. EVER. Now you can panic, ‘Skins fans.
Packers 30 Bengals 34
Andy Dalton outplayed Aaron Rodgers, survived six turnovers and overcame a modest contribution from his rushing attack. That’s a good sign for Cincinnati fans.
Rams 7 Cowboys 31
I hate to say it, but it looks like Dallas is the best team in this division by default. One of the other three NFC East teams will need to get on a serious roll to get into position to force the Cowboys into choking away another shot at the division title in Week 17.
Chargers 17 Titans 20
If Jake Locker can ever get his arm to be as sharp as his legs, Tennessee will be really good.
Ok, somebody has to say it. So far this season, New England has either feasted on lousy opponents or won games by accident. Eventually this luck has to run out, right?
Cardinals 7 Saints 31
The last time New Orleans started out 3-0, they went to the Super Bowl. Somewhere, Marshawn Lynch is praying the Saints come to Seattle for the NFC championship game so he can reintroduce himself.
Giants 0 Panthers 38
This might finally be the year Tom Coughlin gets fired in New York. Of all the 0-3 teams in the NFL, the Giants are the only ones who appear to be regressing.
Texans 9 Ravens 30
Baltimore had “Ray Lewis Day” on the same day Ed Reed returned to Charm City as a Texan. So no surprise the Ravens scored on offense, defense and special teams in what is likely to remain their most impressive win of the season.
Falcons 23 Dolphins 27
Miami is off to its first 3-0 start since 2002 and has been the most impressive AFC East team thus far. The Dolphins get a big test Monday night in New Orleans, and I’m suddenly looking forward to the Fins/Pats game on Oct. 27.
Bills 20 Jets 27
Sold on New York’s 2-1 start? I’m not. Against Buffalo they had 20 penalties for 168 yards in a game neither team seemed keen on winning, and they needed a boneheaded play late to squeak past an imploding Bucs team in Week 1. Just wait. The thud is coming.