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The Trent Richardson trade has always been a genius move for the Cleveland Browns.
They managed to get a first-round pick in the loaded 2014 NFL Draft for a replacement-level running back. After the way Richardson has played for the Indianapolis Colts, there's no way you could get a first-round pick for him today.
But now, after an unexpected midseason stumble from the Colts, the trade is becoming an even bigger steal.
At the time of the trade, everyone expected that first-round pick to be in the bottom of the first round.
The Colts were coming off an 11-win season. They spent a ton of money in free agency, and started the year looking strong on both sides of the ball. The only hole was at running back — a weakness that would be filled, many thought, by the addition of Richardson.
The logic of the trade for Indy was that they were one player away (specifically, one running back away) from winning a Super Bowl, so sacrificing the late first-round pick was worth it.
But as the season has gone on, the Colts have gotten increasingly worse and that pick is has gotten increasingly valuable.
Indianapolis is 7-4 right now, but that record is misleading. Based on the expected wins formula, the Colts have an expected record of 5-6.
Since Reggie Wayne got injured on October 20th, they've quietly fallen apart. Here's what they have done since then:
- They beat the league-worst Texans 27-24. But they were down 21-3 at halftime when Houston coach Gary Kubiak collapsed on the field and couldn't continue coaching.
- They lost to the St. Louis Rams in a 38-8 blowout.
- They beat the Tennessee Titans 30-27. But trailed 17-3 to back-up QB Ryan Fitzpatrick before a comeback.
- They lost to the Arizona Cardinals in a 40-11 blowout.
Those teams are a combined 19-25 this year, and the Colts gave up 32.3 points per game against them.
They finish the year with the Titans, Bengals, Texans, Chiefs, and Jaguars.
Three of those teams are currently in the playoffs, and the two toughest games (Kansas City and Cincinnati) are on the road.
In all likelihood the Colts are going to finish at 10-6 (at best) or 9-7.
In that scenario the pick would be in the late-teens, early-20s, not the late-20s like we all expected when the trade was made. Since players picked in the teens are provably more valuable than picks in the late-20s, this is a huge coup for the Browns.
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