The Cleveland Browns surprised NFL fans today when they traded running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for the Colts' 2014 first-round draft pick, according to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com.
The surprise here is that the Browns just spent the third overall pick in the 2012 draft on Richardson. From this, it appears that general manager Michael Lombardi is willing to clean house to prepare for the future, and adding a first-round draft pick is a great way to do that.
After the Browns signed Hoyer this offseason, the Cleveland Plain Dealer dug up a quote from Lombardi's days at the NFL Network:
I think Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett are starters. I've said this many times: If I would have taken the GM job of the 49ers, I would have gone after Brian Hoyer, because I think he has all the traits and characteristics. If I were the Cleveland Browns, I'd rather have Brian Hoyer behind center than Colt McCoy. I think he's got all the traits you need, in terms of leadership, toughness, the arm strength, the ability to move the team.
The main reason Lombardi talked about going after Hoyer was that, at the time, it's unlikely that the Patriots would have been willing to deal Mallett unless a team was willing to part with a first-rounder or more.
The problem for the Patriots right now is that they're in a bind with Mallett. The only way they can really raise his stock is if he gets significant playing time, and, at the moment, given the Patriots' offensive woes, that's unlikely to happen.
Moreover, the Patriots would need to have a replacement if they traded away Mallett, since they don't have another quarterback on their roster or even on the practice squad. Hoyer, of course, has knowledge of the Patriots' system.
So maybe Bill Belichick should offer Mallett and a fourth-round pick in 2014 exchange for Hoyer and Cleveland's second-round pick. This would give Lombardi a strong-armed quarterback in Ryan Mallett, and it would give the Patriots more flexibility in the 2014 draft without really harming this year's team—an injury to Tom Brady before Amendola and Vereen can return would likely be catastrophic.
Of course, Rosenthal also called the Mallett-to-Cleveland trade possibly "too obvious to actually happen." Sadly, I expect that he'll prove correct.