For the Browns to flip starting RB Trent Richardson to the Colts in exchange for a 2014 first round pick after just 2 games can be viewed a number of ways. Perhaps Cleveland ownership decided it was worth the PR hit if it meant having enough assets in place for next June’s draft to move into a position to select a franchise QB. Or maybe they’re just waiving the white flag ridiculously early. And then there’s Forbes’ Michael Ozanian with the most disturbing suggestion of all ; the club’s embattled owner, Jimmy Haslam (above), may well have serious cash flow issues.
Richardson had played well given the how pathetic the Browns are and is among the few, if perhaps only, up and coming stars on the team. But he but commands a high wage. Richardson’s fully-guaranteed deal is worth $20.5 million over the four years, with a $13.3 signing bonus. He also has no offset language, which means he’ll receive the whole $20.5 million even if he signs with another team before the four years are up.
Which begs the question: Was the trade the result of the legal mess majority owner Jimmy Haslam’s truck stop company, Pilot Flying J , is entangled in? Some estimates the law suits Pilot Flying J faces could be quite expensive, and despite Haslam vowing he will not lose control of the team, plans have already been put in place for his 82 year old father to run the Browns should his son not be able to as a result of his company’s legal problems. Earlier this summer Haslam sold his ownership of a minor league baseball team.
A year ago Haslam, who a the time was a minority investor in the Pittsburgh Steelers, paid $987 million to buy the Browns from Randy Lerner, and vowed to be a hands-on owner. Perhaps too hands on?