Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano are in agreement — acquiring former Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson in a much-ballyhooed trade Wednesday evening was the right move at the right time for the franchise.
The Colts traded their first-round pick in next year’s National Football League draft to Cleveland for Richardson, who was the third overall pick in the 2012 draft. He has three years remaining in his original contract that he signed with the Browns prior to last season.
“Obviously we feel great about acquiring Trent. His resume speaks for itself even though it’s a one-year glimpse [in the NFL]. You can go back and look at what this kid did in the [Southeastern Conference] for three years,” Pagano explained Thursday.
“When you rush for 3,100 yards and 32 touchdowns and catch as many passes as he caught, you rush for 1,700 yards his last year at Alabama in the SEC, that’s as close a thing to professional football as you can get on a collegiate level,” Pagano said.
“We know what he brings to the table as a runner, as a pass-catcher, as a protector. We feel very excited to have Trent in the fold,” the head coach continued.
How excited? Pagano thought Grigson was joking when he initially broached the possibility of adding Richardson to the team.
“Any time you have an opportunity and a name like that pops up, No. 3 overall pick in the same draft as [quarterback] Andrew [Luck]. Right behind Andrew, RG [Robert Griffin III] and Trent [Richardson], obviously your ears perk up,” the Colts coach admitted Thursday.
“There’s a certain amount of excitement level. You’re kind of like, ‘Are you being serious? Are you messing with me on this deal?’”
The Colts general manager certainly didn’t flinch when the chance to make the deal presented itself. The wheels started turning on a possible trade began in earnest early this week.
“Probably two days ago, maybe even Monday. I’m really not quite sure right now. It was the last couple days,” Grigson said when he was asked about the mechanics of the trade.
“I’ve known [Cleveland CEO] Joe [Banner] a long time. There was a player mentioned [for as possible trade]. And we went right to work on it and did our due diligence on the Colts’ end and really liked the player. I’ve always liked the player and when it became a possibility, we had to at least investigate it.”
While in-season trades are rare in the NFL, to have such a deal come together so swiftly is almost unheard of.
“I think if you have two parties that have a vision and they both are able to talk through things out of mutual respect, mutual trust, those types of things, you can talk football and see the good on both sides, then you can get things done in a quicker manner,” the Colts’ second-year GM said.
“Joe [Banner] is a guy that gets things done and he’s a hard worker and I knew we could at least come to a point where we could make a decision on this in a reasonably expedient manner. It worked out real well in that way.”
So why make the deal? Easy. Indianapolis lost starting running back Vick Ballard to a torn anterior cruciate in his right knee during a non-contract drill in practice late last week. While Ahmad Bradshaw, Donald Brown and Kerwynn Williams are available, the chance to add a player with the talents of Richardson made the decision a relative easy one.
“He loves football. That’s always a prerequisite for Chuck and myself and [team owner] Mr. [Jim] Irsay. We want people that love what they do. People that are good at what they do and love what they do,” Grigson said.
“In that respect, he’s, I believe, very talented, naturally. He has the right body type, I feel, for his style as a runner and his style is what fits this offense.”
“This guy is a rolling ball of butcher knives. Ahmad [Bradshaw] is the same way. [Richardson] fits our system. He fits our scheme to a tee,” he said. “It’s huge. He’s . It’s great. You got a great young quarterback [Andrew Luck] and a great young runner. We got other good runners in there too. You add another piece to the puzzle.
“We’re trying to build something special. We know we’re trying to build a monster here and we’re trying to build a program for sustained success for the long haul. So this gives you another opportunity to do that.”
Will Richardson when the Colts play at San Francisco? Of course.
“We did not bring him in here to, I guess, be the water boy on Sunday. He’ll be ready to roll,” Pagano said.
How much work will he get?
“As much as he can handle,” the Colts coach said.
• Happy to be in Indy — Richardson attracted a heavy media presence in the Indianapolis locker room Thursday.
The former Alabama standout couldn’t wait to get started.
“Really excited. You got somebody like Ahmad Bradshaw back there. He’s helping me with all the basics and stuff like that. You got [wide receiver] Reggie Wayne on the one side, you got [wide receiver] T. Y. Hilton, you got [quarterback] Andrew [Luck] and you got a good defense over there,” Richardson said when asked about his first day with the team.
“[The Colts] gave up a first-round pick. That’s shows a lot of respect they have for me. Playing against these guys twice, once in the preseason, once in the regular, just seeing these guys and how they vibe around each other when they was on the sideline and just gelling together. Just being in the locker room for these couple hours, it’s been a big change, a big 360. All these guys are having fun and they’re enjoying life right now. They’re happy to come to work and they’re ready to go.”
He’s still getting over the suddeness of leaving Cleveland after only one full season with the team.
“It was a surprise. But at the same time, like I said, it’s another chapter in my life and with that I’m going to have a chip on my shoulder. I am going to play football like I know how to play football. However it goes with the Browns, good luck to the Browns the rest of the season,” Richardson said.
“When I got the phone call, I really couldn’t believe it. I talked to my family and stuff. Same with that, my family was real shocked. At the same time, they gave phone calls to different people too and everybody was like, ‘That’s a good move.’ At the same time, I got to think about my kids’ school and my house and this and that. At the same time it’s, ‘Hey, I’m in a better situation when it comes to playing for an organization that’s ready to win.’”
• Roster moves — In addition to adding Richardson to the roster, the Colts signed wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers from the practice squad. Wide receiver Danny Coale was added to the practice squad.
Also, tight end Dwayne Allen was officially placed on the team’s injured reserve list. Allen will most the remainder of the 2013 season after suffering a hip injury against Oakland in the season opener. He was expected to undergo surgery Thursday.
• Injury list — Sitting out Thursday’s practice were safeties Antoine Bethea (toe) and LaRon Landry (ankle) along with inside linebacker Pat Angerer (knee).
Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (groin) saw limited work. Wide receiver David Reed (quad), center Samson Satele (elbow), wide receiver Reggie Wayne (shoulder), inside linebacker Kavell Conner (ankle) and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (ribs) all fully practiced.
n Condy visits practice — Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice visited the Colts practice Thursday afternoon.
Rice is now a faculty member of the Stanford School of Business and is a director of the school’s Global Center for Business and Economy. She is friends with several of the Indianapolis players who played at Stanford, including Luck, tight end Coby Fleener, safety Delano Howell and wide receiver Griff Whalen.