Jared Allen (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)
The Vikings won’t have to play him, but different Vikings had varied reactions to the Browns trading RB Trent Richardson before he was to travel to Minnesota.
When it comes to the weekly news cycle, the hype leading up to each week’s games gets amped up with each passing day. It builds to a crescendo on Sunday.
This week, however, all other NFL news has seemingly taken a back seat to the bombshell announcement that the Cleveland Browns, the Vikings’ opponent on Sunday, had traded running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts. It was a harsh statement that the Browns were making – that the new regime was investing in the future at the expense of the present.
It’s not without precedent. When Dallas Cowboys were mired in a miserable 1989 season, they traded Herschel Walker to the Vikings for a bevy of draft picks that helped create the foundation of what made the Cowboys the team of the 1990s. The value of a running back has changed a lot since then, but, when the No. 3 pick in the draft gets traded 18 games into his career, it’s big news. Asked what he thought of the trade, Jared Allen was surprised, although he wasn’t heartbroken by the news because the Vikings don’t have to face Richardson Sunday.
“Shocked,” Allen said. “I was shocked. I’m not going to say I didn’t smile about it. But I was shocked, honestly. This league is crazy. I think we all learned once Peyton (Manning) left the Colts, no one’s safe anywhere. I don’t have to deal with it. So, I was shocked.”
Allen knows what it’s like to be a headline-grabber when it comes to being traded. He was in the middle of a blockbuster trade to the Vikings, but, after a falling-out with then-Kansas City Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson, Allen orchestrated the trade that sent him to Minnesota.
“It can be tough,” Allen said. “I’m assuming, I don’t know if he knew about it or not, but at least I knew it was coming. I had planned for it and was pushing for it. For me, it is stressful because you’re coming to a new place with new expectations, new locker room, new fit, new scheme.
Moving from one team to another is always a life-changing event because you have to pull up stakes and essentially leave the life you’ve known behind you in an instant. Richardson woke up Wednesday as a member of the Browns. By the time the sun went down, he was on his way to Indianapolis and preparing to play the 49ers Sunday instead of the Vikings. With as regimented as players are, being uprooted without warning is something most players aren’t fully prepared for.
“Honestly, doing it in the middle of the season has got to be tough because the fact that you’re in a routine and now it’s like, ‘Whoop,’” Allen said “He flies on the plane (Wednesday) and is practicing (Thursday) in a new system. That’s the beast of this league and the business side of it. We are a revolving door around here and you’ve just got to kind of go with the flow of it. I’m glad I’ve never had to do it in the season and pick family up and move. That would be tough.”
There have been reasons given why the trade was made – Cleveland has a new owner, general manager and head coach that weren’t in place in April 2012 when the Browns traded with the Vikings to move up one spot to get him. The Mike Holmgren regime wanted Richardson badly and was willing to give the Vikings a fourth-round pick (used to take Jarius Wright) to flip-flop picks. The new powers that be didn’t have the same level of confidence in Richardson, which led to reports that Cleveland began the trade talks with Indianapolis.
Another fallout from the trade is that the value of running backs has dropped. Adrian Peterson wasn’t willing to accept that the new-look NFL has marginalized running backs, but, he too was surprised when he heard the news.
“I really don’t know what to take from that,” Peterson said. “It happened so suddenly and you don’t know the reasons behind it. But I guess it’s what works best for them.”
In the end, the move was a stark reminder that nothing is forever in the NFL and that even franchise players can get moved at any time.
“This is a business,” cornerback Chris Cook said. “I think today just goes to show you that you can be moved at any time. Whatever was behind it, who knows? But Cleveland did what it felt it had to do. Indianapolis did what it felt they had to do. I’m glad we don’t have to face him because he’s got talent and he was pretty important to there team.”
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.