June 26, 2016

Partly sunny

Browns: Players give their thoughts on unexpected ‘T-Rich’ trade

BEREA — Linebacker and captain D’Qwell Jackson has learned to expect the unexpected after seven-plus years with the Browns.

He didn’t expect the call he got Wednesday night while getting a massage at home.

Trent Richardson

Running back Trent Richardson phoned to let him know he had been traded. The No. 3 pick in the 2012 draft was sent to Indianapolis for a first-round pick in 2014.

“I’ve seen a lot happen,” Jackson said Thursday. “This is up there.”

Receiver Josh Gordon summed up the sentiments of the handful of players who talked in the locker room during the 45 minutes open to reporters.

“Everybody was definitely shocked by it,” he said. “Nobody really knew. Everyone was in disbelief. I listened to and saw it on TV.”

The Browns have a game Sunday in Minnesota, but the focus Thursday remained on the blockbuster that shook Cleveland, inspired Indianapolis and resonated across the NFL. Signing veteran running back Willis McGahee to a one-year deal in the afternoon didn’t change that.

Richardson was supposed to be the workhorse of the offense and carry the ball 300 times. Instead, he was shipped away for a pick that will likely fall somewhere in the bottom third of the first round.

The front office is looking to 2014 and beyond while the season is only two games old, both losses. Many fans fumed, and the woman answering phones at team headquarters told one, “We’re trying to win.”

Not only was Richardson a high draft pick who had moderate success in his 17 games, he was a face of the franchise — his picture is on the team’s pocket schedule. Fans loved his smile and personality, and he was recognized by people across the country.

“Trent was going to be the face of this organization, a high draft pick, much was expected out of him. He had a decent season last year,” Jackson said. “Everyone, including the fan base, was looking for a breakout season.

“Now that he’s gone I can see the frustration of the fans. The diehard fans of Cleveland thought we had something in Trent. That’s the ugly side of the business we can’t control.”

The Browns paid Richardson $13.8 million of his $20.4 million contract, and Cleveland.com reported the Browns initiated the trade.

“Every team has a marquee guy that gives a spark and entertainment and now we just want to be the Browns,” left guard John Greco said. “Everyone will provide that spark and energy.”

Coach Rob Chudzinski addressed the trade in a team meeting, and his message hadn’t changed.

“Win the one. We still want to be in attack mode offensively and defensively,” Jackson said. “None of our goals have changed. Losing one guy does not dictate a season.”

Defensive end Desmond Bryant, in his fifth season in the league, shrugged when the trade was mentioned.

“It’s a business move,” he said. “It’s their job to get the team in the best position to win. That’s what they felt like was going to get it done, so that’s what they did.”

Banner has accumulated 10 picks for the draft in May, including two in the first, third and fourth rounds. He’s positioned himself to make a run at a quarterback at the top of the draft.

The more losses this season mean the less maneuvering he’ll have to do. But Jackson doesn’t buy the notion the front office is tanking the season to improve draft status to land one of the top-flight quarterbacks that could be available: Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, UCLA’s Brett Hundley, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Alabama’s A.J. McCarron.

“That’s not even realistic,” Jackson said. “In this business there is too much pressure on everyone to win. I can’t even fathom that.”

The trade came on the same day Chudzinski said quarterback Brandon Weeden, the No. 22 pick in 2012, might not regain his starting job after his sprained right thumb heals. Bryant said he doesn’t take the developments as evidence the team has given up on the season.

“Definitely not,” he said. “We’re out there and we put in work every day to win games on Sunday. This doesn’t change that.”

Richardson flew to Indianapolis late Wednesday night and practiced with the Colts on Thursday. The locker he left behind had been cleaned out and the nameplate removed.

“Trent was in good spirits,” Jackson said. “He was disappointed, but I think he’s going to a good situation. He felt like he had a lot to prove here.”

Coordinator Norv Turner thinks the grass may be greener for Richardson.

“My deep-down reaction is I like Trent an awful lot,” he said. “I think for him this will be a real positive thing.”

Contact Scott Petrak at (440) 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @scottpetrak.