Pick 6: Richardson leads low-impact pickups list
The Indianapolis Colts produced some of the first waves of this NFL season when they traded their first-round draft pick next year to the Cleveland Browns for running back Trent Richardson just two weeks into the schedule.
Colts owner Jim Irsay, he the relentlessly enthusiastic user of social media, was beside himself as the deal went down. He teased on Twitter that the ''Earth is SHAKING!!!!!'' before exclaiming to Colts fans and his thousands of followers that this was a ''MONSTER TRADE.''
Richardson was the third selection in the 2012 draft, sure, so this was no routine swap. He's a 22-year-old powerful runner who filled a large void in the backfield when Vick Ballard got hurt and Ahmad Bradshaw went down later. But his impact has been minimal.
Surprising? Hardly. That's the way this often happens in this league for players who join teams with the season already in progress. The process of picking up new plays, fitting in with new teammates and adjusting to new coaching styles is never easy.
Remember the second stint Randy Moss had with the Minnesota Vikings?
All those long touchdown catches he had in purple from 1998-04 were simply archived highlights, not renewable feats, when the Vikings desperately traded a third-round draft pick to fetch him from New England partway through their tumultuous 2010 season.
Moss harshly criticized the post-practice lunch buffet one day and was soon let go after clashing with coach Brad Childress, finishing with two scores and 174 yards over four games, a far cry from the record-setting years he enjoyed with the Patriots.
The latest big-name pick-up was made by the Chicago Bears, who took a flier on recovering defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, hoping for a down-the-stretch boost for their lagging front line. The four-time Pro Bowl pick, coming back from a lingering groin injury, is unlikely to play, let alone be a factor, for a while.
Here then, with appropriately little fanfare, is a look at six of the most notable in-season acquisitions of 2013:
TRENT RICHARDSON: The former Alabama star's best performance for the Colts was a 20-carry, 60-yard, one-touchdown afternoon on Sept. 29 against the winless Jacksonville Jaguars. The Browns, meanwhile, have won four of seven games since the trade. Fortunately for the Colts, they haven't needed to rely on their new runner. Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton and a formidable defense have spurred them to a 6-2 start.
JOSH FREEMAN: His fallout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was stunning and swift, and the former first-round draft pick was signed by the Vikings a few days after he was cut. The Vikings are still trying to find a franchise quarterback for the future, whether Freeman, Christian Ponder or someone else they draft or acquire next year. But Freeman's debut was dismal. He completed only 20 of 53 passes for a long of 22 yards and one interception in a loss to the New York Giants and hasn't seen the field since.
MATT FLYNN: The former Green Bay Packers backup signed a big contract with the Seattle Seahawks in 2012 and was traded to Oakland this past offseason. Then the Raiders cut him, despite reworking his contract to award him $6.5 million in guaranteed money. He signed with Buffalo, a team using a carousel at quarterback while rookie E.J. Manuel has been hurt. But Flynn was released by the Bills three weeks later. Flynn has 10 career touchdown passes over six years in the league.
BRYANT MCKINNIE: The behemoth left tackle was traded by the Baltimore Ravens to Miami for a late-round draft pick, and the soft-spoken veteran has at least helped stabilize an offensive line that was already reeling before the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin hazing controversy blew up. McKinnie plays an important position, but it's hard to make a huge impact there. The Dolphins have been sacked 35 times, more than any other NFL team.
BRANDON JACOBS AND PEYTON HILLIS: After Bradshaw joined the Colts, the Giants were confident the Andre Brown-David Wilson tandem would be a sufficient backfield. Both of them have been hurt, forcing the Giants to sign free agents Jacobs and Hillis. Jacobs was a popular, powerful former Giants running back with a pair of 1,000-yard seasons on his resume, but he's averaging only 3.5 yards per carry. Hillis had 70 yards in an Oct. 27 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, but he needed 20 carries to get there.
WILLIS MCGAHEE: The Richardson trade left the Browns wafer thin at running back, so they signed McGahee, the 32-year-old who rushed for 1,199 yards as recently as 2011 for the Denver Broncos. McGahee has averaged only 2.6 yards per carry, though.
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