Trent Richardson Trade: It's the Same Old, Pathetic Cleveland Browns

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterSeptember 19, 2013

Once again, as it has been for some time, and as it may always be, the football world is laughing at the Cleveland Browns.

It's the kind of laughter that causes your face to freeze and your stomach to ache. General managers are on the floor—chuckling, drool coming out of the corner of their mouths. Others are on the phone, calling around to their buddies: "Can you believe those idiots?" Oh yes, that's happening.

One scout to me: "What are they doing? Do you know?" The scout was asking me. Hell, I don't know. No one gets why the Browns traded Trent Richardson, the team's third overall pick from the 2012 draft, to the Colts for a first-round pick.

The Browns are that hamster on the wheel. There is a prize in front of them. They see it. They think they can get it, and their little hamster brains can't figure out why they are running and hustling but haven't gotten any closer.

The problems with the trade are numerous. To start, the franchise has clearly given up on this season and it's only Week 3. You're not winning anything with Brandon Weeden or Brian Hoyer at quarterback and what's-his-name at running back. Richardson wasn't the perfect back, but he was moderately productive, and on a team with very little offensive talent, he represented hope.

Now, there's nothing on offense. Might as well put some shoulder pads on Jim Brown.

It's a slap in the face to Browns fans—to make them pay real cash money for this dumpster-fire team, and then promise them something in the future, when the Browns recently haven't done anything to warrant that trust. Once again, the Browns punch maybe the most loyal fans in the gut, while telling them it's a kiss on the cheek.

Each NFL season is precious. This isn't baseball; this is football, where teams genuinely have a chance to win each year. Except Cleveland.

I understand now why Cleveland fans are always so angry. They have a perpetual scowl and thorny disposition. This is why. They're the coyote that constantly gets the anvil dropped on its head.

"I totally understand the emotions of what the fans are experiencing," said the team's general manager, Joe Banner, at a news conference after the trade was announced.

Browns fans have heard promises before. And before that. Before that, too. Promises on top of promises on top of promises. For almost 15 years. It doesn't mean that Banner can't stop that trend, but he was mostly a salary-cap guy in Philadelphia. 

Another problem is that the move was obviously made to put the Browns in position to get a franchise quarterback in next year's draft. Maybe Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater will be a great pro. Or Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel will put down the autograph pens and hone his craft and be a good NFL player. There's also Clemson's Tajh Boyd. The problem again goes back to trust. Do you trust this new regime to do the smart thing?

Do you trust the Browns to use their double picks in Rounds 1, 3 and 4 to make the intelligent draft choices? The answer has to be no. You just can't.

Richardson was a tangible piece the Browns could have kept, and if they wanted to make a run at a quarterback next year, they still could have done exactly that. Buffalo rookie EJ Manuel was drafted 16th overall. If you're smart, and good at your job, you can find a franchise signal-caller almost anywhere. Bart Starr, Drew Brees, Roger Staubach, Joe Montana, Brett Favre and John Unitas were all picked relatively late.

There's this belief the Colts and Browns both won. Um...no. The Colts won this trade. They get a solid back who can take pressure off of Andrew Luck. The Browns get two wins for the season and a bunch of maybes for the future.

Even the Jaguars are chortling.

Once again, as it has been for some time, and as it may always be, the football world is laughing at the Cleveland Browns.


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