Richardson trade flat-out bargain for Colts

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The Indianapolis Colts are getting a commodity of unknown value in running back Trent Richardson.

His rookie statistics last season were ho-hum as he played through injuries and was surrounded by a mostly lousy supporting cast.

And while much has been made about the first round draft choice the Colts gave up for him, monetarily speaking, Richardson could be the biggest bargain on the Colts’ roster.

Before last season began, Cleveland signed the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft to a four-year, $20.5 million contract, which included a $13.34 million signing bonus. In addition, the contract paid Richardson a base salary $390,000 last year. Per the contract, he is due to make $1.32 million this year, $2.25 million next year and $3.18 million in 2015.

NFL sources said the trade between the Colts and Browns didn’t involve any cash. That means, Colts owner Jim Irsay will pay just $6.75 million to a top three draft selection for three years of service. Richardson’s three-year paycheck from Indianapolis will be more than $400,000 less than the colts will pay back-up quarterback Matt Hasselbeck over the next two seasons.

If the music-loving Irsay was going to use a lyrical quote to express his emotions after the Richardson trade, he might borrow from the British rock band The Who and scream: “I call that a bargain, the best I ever had.”

Yes, there’s a chance that Richardson, who has already undergone two knee surgeries in his young life, could founder. But the 22-year-old could also deliver six to eight really productive years running the football.

The biggest risk for the Colts is that the team falls short of its lofty expectations this year, and that first round draft pick that was shipped to Cleveland turns out to be much higher (earlier in the draft order) than most now think it will be. Most people who watch the NFL closely agree that there’s a fine line this year for the Colts, and if they cross over it, they could just as easily end up 5-11 as 11-5.

Most would agree, that if the Colts achieve all they believe they can this year and the draft choice Irsay and General Manager Ryan Grigson just traded to Cleveland ends up being in the mid 20s to high 20s (there are 32 NFL teams), the Richardson acquisition would be well worth it. If the Colts land on the wrong side of that thin line and they end up having traded away a top 10 draft pick, a lot fewer people will be nodding their heads in agreement with Irsay and Grigson as they are doing now.

I haven’t found anyone yet who thinks Richardson is going to be as good as former Colts Marshall Faulk or Edgerrin James. Some think he’ll be doing good to top what Joseph Addai accomplished during his prime.

Still, Richardson’s talent is alluring. And the price tag made the trade for the Colts almost irresistible. Only time will tell if it was fool’s gold.


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