Trade review: A look at the first terrible Trent Richardson deal
Back in 2012, the Cleveland Browns made Trent Richardson the highest-drafted running back in the NFL since Reggie Bush was taken second overall in 2006. The Browns took him with the No. 3 overall pick after trading up with the Minnesota Vikings, but the move didn’t come cheap.
Cleveland, holding the fourth pick in the draft, moved up one spot to take Richardson, surrendering four draft picks to do so. In addition to giving Minnesota the No. 4 pick, Cleveland also sent the Vikings a fourth-, fifth-, and seventh-round pick in the 2012 draft.
Here’s how the trade has shaken out three years later.
Trent Richardson (No. 3 overall): Despite the Browns trading up for him in 2012, Richardson’s tenure in Cleveland didn’t last long. In fact, it lasted just 17 games. In those 17 games, Richardson rushed for 1,055 yards and 11 touchdowns, while also adding 418 yards receiving, as well. However, as impressive as those numbers were, they weren’t good enough to keep the Browns from sending him to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick in 2013. Since then, Richardson has scored just seven touchdowns and averaged a measly 3.1 yards per carry. After being benched for the Colts’ final two playoff games, he was cut following the 2014 season. He attempted to rejuvenate his career with the Oakland Raiders in the offseason but failed to make the 53-man roster, and hasn’t played a down in the NFL since — though he was reportedly invited to Denver on Tuesday for a workout.
Richardson is widely considered to be one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history and it’s unclear if he’ll ever play professional football again.
Matt Kalil, OT (No. 4 overall): Kalil was taken by the Vikings with the fourth overall pick in 2012 and has started every game for Minnesota since then. He’s the Vikings’ left tackle and should be for years to come, starting 24 more games than Richardson has up to this point. He’s helped solidify the Vikings’ offensive line and elevated the game of Adrian Peterson. Based on this pick alone, the Vikings got the better of the deal.
Jarius Wright, WR (fourth-round pick): Wright isn’t a household name like Richardson, but he was the Vikings’ third-leading receiver in 2013. In four seasons in the league, he’s caught 116 passes for 1,664 yards and seven touchdowns. He was a beneficial addition for the Vikings, who have lacked weapons on the outside over the past few years.
Robert Blanton, DB (fifth-round pick): Blanton began his career as a cornerback but has been used all over the secondary. He’s played strong safety this season, backing up Andrew Sendejo, and has made 17 starts in his career. In 2014, Blanton recorded 106 tackles and one interception. As a fifth-round pick, Blanton didn’t have extremely high expectations, but his 209 career tackles are solid.
A.J. Jefferson, CB (acquired in trade): The Vikings sent the seventh-round pick acquired from the Browns to the Tennessee Titans for their sixth rounder in 2013. Minnesota then sent that sixth-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals for Jefferson and a seventh-round selection. Jefferson started seven games for the Vikings in 2012, making 37 tackles and knocking down five passes. He then played 10 games for Minnesota before joining the Seattle Seahawks in 2014. He now plays for the Toronto Argonauts in the CFL.
Michael Mauti, LB (acquired in trade): Minnesota used the seventh-round pick from the Jefferson trade to select Mauti in 2013. Mauti played two seasons with the Vikings, making just 15 tackles. He was cut before this season and has since started two games for the New Orleans Saints in 2015.
This trade would have been much, much worse for the Browns had they not traded Richardson to the Colts in 2013. It salvaged the move somewhat, but not enough to deem them "winners" of the deal. They used that first-round pick from the Colts to move up and select Johnny Manziel, who also hasn’t worked out for them.
The Browns have had their struggles in recent drafts, with Richardson headlining the group. The Vikings, however, benefited greatly from this trade and have turned around their franchise since making the move.