It's an NFL maxim that no position is more replaceable than running back. In the wake of Trent Richardson's shocking trade to Indianapolis, it's worth noting that this Sunday, the Browns won't be playing anyone who has a single rushing yard this year.
It's (somehow) true. The listed starting running back is Bobby Rainey, who was undrafted in 2012 and didn't play a snap for Baltimore last season or Cleveland through the first two games. Chris Ogbonnaya is a blocking fullback; last year he had just eight carries in 15 starts. It appears that Willis McGahee will get the start after failing to catch on with an NFL team in training camp, if he passes his physical—and that's a pretty big "if."
The Browns current leading rusher is QB Brandon Weeden, with his seven yards on two scrambles. Weeden's out this week with a thumb injury and will be replaced by Brian Hoyer.
The Browns will be terrible this year. They've scored 16 points over two games, and that was before their offense consisted of scrap heap guys, depth chart fillers, and Super Bowl champion Bobby Rainey. This is the idea. This is a team that could happily lose 14 games, because there's a quarterback draft coming up, and it'll pay to have picks.
There'll be Bridgewater and Manziel and, less sexily, Boyd and Hundley and Mariota. If the Browns don't lose their way into a position to get their choice, they're primed to trade for it. Cleveland finds itself with two first-round picks, a second, two thirds, and two fourths. That's more than enough to pull off a deal like the one Washington used to get Robert Griffin III (three first rounders and a second, spread out over three years), even without decimating the team's future drafts. Trent Richardson wasn't the mistake, the front office is conceding. Brandon Weeden was the mistake, and Richardson was the only piece with value enough to press the reset button.
I do believe this is a good move for Cleveland (even if Dan Gilbert, an owner who failed to take advantage of the world's greatest basketball player, and let him leave for nothing, doesn't). Which doesn't make it any easier to take for Browns fans. Or for Richardson, who reportedly learned about the trade not from his agent, not from the team, but from a report on the radio.
"One of my friends called me he was like 'You got traded.' I was like ‘Man, shut up talking to me get off my phone,’” he said. “I turned on the radio and all of a sudden I heard Cleveland Browns running back has been traded."
“It just hit me in my face,” he said. “I didn’t see it coming.”
So what now, besides losing and more losing? Willis McGahee and Bobby Rainey don't sell tickets. If only there was a local legend with nothing but potential who could fit the bill.