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Brian Hoyer, Trent Richardson … Cleveland Browns are tanking

Browns dog poundThe Cleveland Browns have made it pretty clear this week that they are building for the future and, for lack of a better term, tanking this season.

The 0-2 squad made two moves on Wednesday that seem to indicate they are trying to position themselves to land the top overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

First, they announced that third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer would be starting at quarterback on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings instead of backup Jason Campbell. Campbell is in his eighth season and has gone 31-40 as a starter. He is a below-average quarterback, but at least he can make an offense somewhat respectable. Hoyer is a career backup who only has thrown for one touchdown and two interceptions in his career. Which one of the two gives a team a better chance to win?

Later in the day, the Browns announced that they were trading running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick in 2014. The Browns traded a fourth and fifth-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings last year in order to move up a spot and select Richardson third overall in the draft. They’re trading him after barely a year. The thinking is that Richardson did not show the new Cleveland regime that he was a gamechanger worth keeping, so they dealt him for some good value in return.

Most people believe recognize there is a big dropoff in talent between Richardson and Chris Ogbonnaya or Willis McGahee (whomever fills Richardson’s spot), so everyone is in agreement that the deal makes the Browns worse this year. They’re already 0-2 and have a long season left. Now they’ve made themselves even worse.

Richardson was not drafted by the team’s new front office and coaching staff, so why not get rid of him and at least stack the draft? They now have two first, third, and fourth-round picks in 2014, which will give them plenty of opportunities to load up on talent.

The Browns are taking a lot of heat for obviously giving up on the season, but I think they’re making a smart move. I haven’t viewed Richardson as a game-changing back. I thought they made a mistake taking him so highly for two reasons; it’s a passing league and running backs aren’t used as much, and I never viewed Richardson as a guy with Adrian Peterson talent level where he’s worth selecting in the top five. At least they’re getting a first-round pick in return.


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