BEREA, Ohio — On the same day that the Cleveland Browns announced Brian Hoyer as their starting quarterback and cautioned that Brandon Weeden might not get his job back, they traded 2012 first-round pick Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2014 first-round pick.
It was a clear statement that the Browns don’t care much for former team president Mike Holmgren’s 2012 draft — and also a strong signal that they are poised to draft a quarterback in May.
They now have two first-round selections in 2014, and 10 picks overall. They will have ammunition to seek a championship-caliber franchise quarterback, which is their No. 1 priority.
“I don’t want to tip our hand about what we’re going to do,” CEO Joe Banner said in a news conference last night, “but I think it puts us in a good position. … We are positioning ourselves to build a team that is good and sustainable.”
The Browns also announced they are bringing to Cleveland running back Willis McGahee, who will be signed if he passes a physical.
The Holmgren/Tom Heckert regime thought so much of Richardson that they moved up a spot in the draft to get him, trading the fourth pick in the first round, along with fourth-, fifth- and seventh-round picks in the 2012 draft.
McGahee, a two-time Pro Bowler (2007, 2011), is a 6-foot, 235-pound veteran in his 11th year. He has four 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
Last season, Richardson rushed 267 times for 950 yards (3.6-yard average) and 11 touchdowns. He caught 51 passes for 367 yards and a TD. He did so after recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery and with broken ribs suffered in mid-October. This season, Richardson rushed 31 times for 105 yards and a 3.4-yard average.
Banner said that the first conversation with the Colts happened on Tuesday. When asked about trading the team’s top running back so early in the season, Banner said, “This was more about the moment presented itself. … It wasn’t something where we could say, ‘Wait three weeks.’ … We had to make that decision now.”
“I just think as we look forward, this was good value and gave us an opportunity to accomplish what we want to accomplish going forward. … I think Trent is a really good player, and I think he’s going to do well there and he would have done well here.
“The value that we were getting back … made this a thing we wanted to do.”
Banner said the Browns are not looking to make additional trades anytime soon, but like any team, would listen if another opportunity presented itself.
The Browns would be the fourth team for McGahee, 31. In nine seasons, the former University of Miami player has rushed for 8,097 yards and 63 touchdowns on 1,957 attempts. He has 202 receptions for 1,319 yards and five touchdowns.