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How Does Richardson Trade Impact Sunday's Game?

Posted Sep 19, 2013

NFL trades are rare. Blockbuster trades during the season are even rarer. You can count Wednesday as a rare day in the NFL.

Vikings

The Cleveland Browns, who will travel to Minnesota on Saturday for a matchup with the Vikings on Sunday, traded running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday in exchange for a 2014 1st-round pick. It’s the type of trade you’re more likely to see in fantasy football than in real football, and it’s the type of trade that has many consequences, both long-term and short-term.

We’ll let others debate the long-term consequences, and make no mistake, there are significant long-term consequences. Consider this: It was just last year when Cleveland traded up from the #4 spot to the #3 spot and sent the Vikings the #4 overall pick and selections in the 4th, 5th and 7th rounds. The Vikings were still able to select the player they targeted – left tackle Matt Kalil, who went to the Pro Bowl as a rookie – and the extra ammo the Vikings acquired eventually allowed them to trade back into the 1st round to select safety Harrison Smith. The Browns, however, ended up dealing away the player they moved up to grab just 17 games into his career.

Vikings

Let’s take a quick look at the short-term consequences instead. The week began with many thinking the Browns would start backup Jason Campbell at quarterback and would be relying on Richardson, their star running back, to carry the load in Minnesota. As it turns out, it’s 3rd-stringer Brian Hoyer who will start, not Campbell, and Richardson obviously won’t be a factor now that he’s been traded. Remaining on the Browns website depth chart with Richardson gone are Bobby Rainey and Chris Ogbonnaya; the Browns will also take a look at veteran running back Willis McGahee on Thursday, so he could be in uniform and on the field this Sunday.

With Richardson gone, it’s worth a look to see what the Browns might try to get going in the passing game. The top threat is tight end Jordan Cameron (pictured), a three-year veteran from USC who measures in at 6-5, 245 pounds. He has been targeted 20 times already this season by Browns passers, and in those 20 targets he has 14 receptions for 201 yards and a touchdown. The Vikings must figure out a way to cover him up. Other threats in the passing game include Davone Bess, Greg Little and Travis Benjamin. And don’t sleep on Josh Gordon, the big, explosive, physical and fast receiver they selected out of Baylor in the 2012 supplemental draft. He’s coming off a two-game suspension this week, and while he hasn’t practiced or played in those two weeks, he’s a dangerous weapon and can score from anywhere on the field.

Yes, it’s good news for the Vikings that Cleveland will now be without its most prominent weapon for Sunday’s game. But this doesn’t mean the Vikings can go to sleep on the Browns. This is still a team with a fierce front seven on defense, a good special teams group and an offense that features plenty of playmakers in the passing game. Plus, you can bet that Rainey is going to try and make everything of the newfound opportunity he has to carry the ball after sitting behind Ray Rice in Baltimore last season and then Richardson this season.