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In one of the most shocking in-season NFL trades in recent history, the Cleveland Browns traded Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a 1st-round draft pick three weeks ago.
The NFL world took it as a sign the Browns were tanking, throwing away the season after a 0-2 start and trying to stockpile future assets.
While it was hard to stomach for Browns fans, the logic made sense.
But no one considered another possibility.... maybe the Browns just didn't think Richardson was any good.
Everyone's analyzing this trade under the assumption that Richardson is super talented (he was taken 3rd-overall in 2012, after all). But is he really?
There's a mounting pile of evidence suggesting that Richardson is an average-at-best player. And if that's the case (which it appears to be), this is an absolute steal and genius trade by the Browns.
Last year Richardson averaged 3.6 yards per carry (40th in the NFL) and only had two runs of 20 yards or more.
It wasn't his line's fault either. According to the advanced football stat site ProFootballFocus, the Browns had the 11th best running blocking line in the league last year, and the 5th best line overall. His back-up last year, Montario Hardesty, averaged 4.2 yards per carry behind the same line, which would have ranked 21st in the league.
So far for the Colts he has 51 carries for 151 yards (2.9 yards per carry) and zero runs of 20 yards or more. The four other Colts players who have at least 10 rushing attempts are all averaging 4.5 yards per carry or more.
Those are the statistics of a below-replacement level running back. And the Browns, who've become incredibly compelling since the trade, got a 1st-round pick for him.
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