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Did the Indianapolis Colts Make a Mistake Trading for Trent Richardson?

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Did the Indianapolis Colts Make a Mistake Trading for Trent Richardson?
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

A few short weeks ago, the entire NFL world was mocking the Cleveland Browns for supposedly giving up on their season and trading star running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for the low price of a 2014 first-round pick.

After all, the Browns traded away three picks to move up to take Richardson third overall in the 2012 draft. The pick the Colts gave up for him is expected to come late in the first round next spring, so Indianapolis got a bargain, right?

Well, maybe not.

Having two of the top three picks from the 2012 draft (quarterback Andrew Luck went No. 1 overall) on your offense sounds great in theory. On the field, however, the Colts haven't quite received the boost they likely expected from their new addition.

Most seemed to believe that Richardson's 3.4 yards-per-carry average with the Browns this season was a product of the defensive attention he garnered in Cleveland's uneven offense.

It was widely expected that Richardson's production would rise dramatically in Indianapolis, where the Colts' opponents are forced to respect the passing game with Luck under center.

However, this has simply not been the case.

Richardson averaged just 2.9 yards per carry in his first two games with the Colts. In Sunday's win over the Seattle Seahawks, his average was 3.1 yards per carry.

Perhaps Richardson is showing the effects of his lengthy injury history. Perhaps his lofty draft status was merely the product of Alabama's collegiate dominance.

Either way, Richardson simply hasn't been the explosive playmaker he was expected to be as a pro, and a change of scenery obviously hasn't helped.

Colts Running Backs This Season
Att Yds Avg TD
Ahmad Bradshaw 41 186 4.53 2
Trent Richardson 51 151 2.96 2
Donald Brown 19 157 8.26 0
Vick Ballard 13 63 4.84 0

Through Week 5

It is starting to look like the Browns saw something to suggest that Richardson would never emerge and decided to sell while his stock was still relatively high. The Colts, who had just lost running back Vick Ballard for the season, wound up being the ones to pay the price.

More time in coordinator Pep Hamilton's system might make Richardson a more productive back, but it has already been three weeks and Richardson still looks like the same runner he was with Cleveland.

The truly concerning part is that he doesn't even appear to be the best back on the Colts roster.

Six-year veteran Ahmad Bradshaw leads the team with 186 rushing yards for the season with a respectable 4.5 yards-per-carry average.

Unfortunately, Bradshaw has been out since suffering a neck injury against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3, and his immediate future is up in the air.

Backup Donald Brown has been even more impressive. 

Brown, a former first-round pick once seen as a major bust, has shined in his limited role this season. The fifth-year back came into Sunday's contest averaging 9.2 yards per carry, though he had only been given the ball 13 times.

Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

Against the Seahawks, Brown carried the ball six times for 37 yards and a touchdown. His average gain per rush (6.2) was double that of Richardson's and Brown's superior burst showed on the field.

If Brown continues to make plays on the field or Bradshaw return later this season, Richardson may be in store for a reduced role.

This would mean that Indianapolis traded away a first-round pick for a member of a running back committee instead of a workhorse—which seems to be a mistake any way you look at it. 

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