A midseason trade is extremely taxing on a player in so many different ways. Firstly, he must forcefully leave the team he’s learned to work with to a brand new atmosphere and an entirely different locker room. After dealing with that, he’s expected to learn the playbook in less than a week with only a handful of short practices. His chances of coming in and making an immediate impact are minimal.
But Colts’ general manager Ryan Grigson threw in all his chips for Trent Richardson, regardless of the risks.
Richardson would respond in a negative way, posting an incredibly low 2.9 ypc average. At the season’s conclusion, Richardson was ranked No. 44 of NFL running backs by Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Near the end of the season, the effort that Richardson put out on a weekly basis was dreadful (especially in his playoff appearances). He was a constant source of agony among a Colts’ fanbase that just wanted some positive running yards.
Entering the offseason, Richardson was expected to be given a second chance at the starting job with an extremely short leash. After some running back craziness at camp, the Colts’ once threatening triple-headed monster has become a breakable one-two punch of Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw.
And Grigson must be asking himself, was it worth it?
The price for Richardson was a first round draft pick, and the Colts would have drafted at No. 26 if they stayed at the pick. Richardson may have had a tough season, but there are few players in the 2014 draft available at No. 26 that I’d take over him. Perhaps Deone Bucannon or Jimmie Ward could have made for some safety help, but considering the uncertainty of guys near the end of Round One, it’s not a head-scratcher; Trent Richardson beats them any day of the week.
Colts fans forget too easily that Richardson was drafted right behind Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III; he was and can still be a good player. He may not be exceptional, but he is still good.
Let’s take a hypothetical trip down the alternative path where the trade never happened, and at No. 26, the Indianapolis Colts select Jimmie Ward from Northern Illinois to fill the vacant free safety spot. Training camp starts, and Vick Ballard goes down with a busted Achilles tendon and Rainey gets kicked off the team, as were the happenings of this offseason. We’re left with Ahmad Bradshaw, who has played just one 16-game season in his seven-year career, and a strange conglomeration of Phillip Tanner, Zurlon Tipton and Dan Herron fighting for a change-of-pace backup spot.
Yeah, I’d rather take the spin on the 23-year old back that still has tons of potential.
By now, it might be beating a dead horse to say it, but a whole offseason of work in Pep Hamilton’s revamped offense will be immeasurable to the running back’s development. In his limited time in training camp, he’s impressed his positional coaches and has shown an entirely reformed knowledge of the offense. He is far from being a bust; Richardson just needs to get back on the field and prove that he still can be the back from Alabama that had a 5.9 ypc average and 21 touchdowns in his final year.
Besides, what option is there? Bradshaw may currently have the best skill set of Colts running backs, but in a bell-cow role, he’s sure to wear down as the season goes; no offense to Bradshaw, but he’s not exactly Mr. Durable. With Ballard and Rainey gone, a rebound player is more than worth a gamble.
There are still plenty of things to play out, but with all of the injury woes that have hit Indianapolis this offseason, I’m grateful that Trent Richardson is our guy.