It's really difficult for such a dedicated fanbase like the Cleveland Browns to stomach the trading of their best player. In the past year, they've endured tragedy, the firing of Mike Holmgren, the Brandon Weeden pick, and now, this. Not to mention, watching Brian Hoyer as their starting quarterback.
So why should Cleveland Browns fans take a step back and appreciate this as a strategic move? Well, to be quite frank, Trent "3.6-yards-per-rush" Richardson never really produced like a first-round pick—much less a top-three selection.
You only really knew his name if you were a Browns fan, or he was on your fantasy team.
I hate to harp on cliches, but this is a passing league. People don't value running backs anymore. The 2013 NFL draft featured zero running backs selected in the first round. Other than Adrian Peterson or Doug Martin, I can't say any team is fully satisfied with their running back selection in the first round in the past decade.
You see Super Bowl contenders following this trend, too. Green Bay balked on drafting a running back for a few years, having one of the worst run games in the league, until they finally invested a second-round choice in Eddie Lacy.
Atlanta went to the well on a 30-year-old. San Francisco has a 30-year-old and refuses to replace him. Denver is resorting to a committee, and the same is true with New England. The era of the bell-cow back is dying.
This isn't to say that teams that have good runners don't win—or can't win. I'm just saying that a premium pick in the mid-20s in a loaded 2014 draft is more important than a running back who can't break 1,000 yards rushing or make it two games without bruising his ribs.
Beyond that, let's look at what a first-round pick represents. According to CBS Sports' NFL Trade page, the only two players in 2013 who commanded a first-rounder were Percy Harvin and Darrelle Revis.
Harvin was, at one point, considered an MVP candidate before his injury, and Revis is widely considered the best cornerback in the game, a position that is clearly more valuable than the running back position.
You can get any running back off the street to produce what Richardson did last year. Sure, he might be a lot better behind Andrew Luck and a decent Colts offense rather than the putrid Brown's pass attack.
But we're talking about what Cleveland is losing here, and what they stand to gain. Why wouldn't you tank to try and get Jadeveon Clowney, who some consider a once-in-a-decade pass-rushing prospect, per a report on survey results by Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com, much like Luck and Robert Griffin III at the quarterback spot? Or maybe even Teddy Bridgewater to solve their never-ending QB problem?
Look, even if they aren't bad enough to get the No. 1 or No. 2 pick (yeah right!), few teams have two quality first-round picks to offer for a higher one, and as we saw with the Washington trade for RGIII, you can always put together serious trade packages, no matter how good the prospect.
Remember what the great Jim Brown once said about Trent Richardson? "The problem is that he's ordinary. I think he's ordinary."— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 19, 2013
Maybe the Browns organization finally saw what their great, Jim Brown, saw.
Trent Richardson is "ordinary." In the NFL, most running backs are, and first-round picks are manna from heaven who give you the chance to be extraordinary. Even though the Browns have screwed up a bunch of times before, it doesn't mean you try and "win" with the horrible roster you have now in a tough division. They made the right move.