- Nick Wagoner, ESPN Staff Writer
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EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The news that the Cleveland Browns traded running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick in 2014 took the NFL world by storm Wednesday afternoon, but had things played out different before the 2012 NFL draft, it might never have happened.
For those who don't recall, the St. Louis Rams were one of the biggest movers and shakers in that year's draft, trading down from No. 2 to No. 6 with Washington for a boatload of valuable draft picks, which they've already turned into valuable assets such as defensive tackle Michael Brockers, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, linebacker Alec Ogletree and more. They also have one more first-round pick from that trade to use in 2014. Washington, of course, moved up to grab quarterback Robert Griffin III.
What some might not remember is that Richardson was almost never a member of the Browns. As the Rams fielded offers for that No. 2 overall pick, general manager Les Snead, coach Jeff Fisher and Co. set a price, an extremely high price, for any team wanting to move up for Griffin. The bidding came down to two teams: Washington and Cleveland.
Many assumed the Browns would win the bidding because they had two first-round picks that year, including a pick that was two spots higher than Washington, at No. 4. Cleveland honcho Mike Holmgren wanted to move up to give the Browns their much-needed franchise quarterback, but the Redskins met the asking price with little hesitation while the Browns were slow to come around. By the time Cleveland was willing to meet the price, it was too late.
So how different would things be now if the Rams and Browns had consummated a deal? For starters, Wednesday's big trade never would have happened. The Browns would have a franchise quarterback in Griffin (something they still lack) and, though it's far from certain, there's a very real chance that Richardson would be the Rams' current workhorse running back rather than filling a big need for the Colts.
In Fisher's history coaching in the league, he's almost always had a strong running game. In the run-up to that draft, he made it clear that he still valued the position and that Richardson was someone to consider.
“I think he’s a very, very talented player,” Fisher said before that draft. “He doesn’t have a lot of wear-and-tear because it’s been a one-year deal for him (as a feature back). But he’s got great explosion and quickness in the hole, and change of direction with the jump-cut, and power, and ball security.”
As things played out, the Rams never had a chance to pick Richardson (the Browns actually moved up to No. 3 to secure him) and they moved down to end up quite pleased with Brockers. Had they made a deal with Cleveland instead of Washington, though, the trade that shook the NFL world to its core Wednesday almost certainly never would have happened.
A quick run through all that we had right here in this space on Wednesday. ... Kicking things off, we provided assurance to Rams fans that the team will indeed be wearing throwbacks twice this season. ... Next, we dived into some hot topics using a little video with the debut of "Buzz." ... In this week's version of QB watch, we broke down Sam Bradford's game in Atlanta and looked ahead to what awaits him in Dallas. ... From there, it was time for a look at the day's injury report and how the Rams are doing what they can to protect their players with two games coming in a five-day span. ... The Rams also added some more tackle insurance by agreeing to a one-year deal with Max Starks. ... Finally, a look at tackle Joe Barksdale and the opportunity that rests before him should he get the start this weekend against the Cowboys.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz took a look at the video-game numbers teams are putting up in the passing game through two weeks.
Over at StLouisRams.com, Jonathan Webb took a look at the way Bradford can now spread the ball around.