Trent Richardson’s disappointing two-year run with the Indianapolis Colts finally came to an anticipated end Thursday.
The underachieving running back and 2012 No. 3 overall selection was waived two days after the Colts signed San Francisco 49ers all-time leading rusher Frank Gore. Running back Michael Hill was also let go.
The only question that remains is will the Colts still be on the hook for paying Richardson the $3,184,062 owed on the final year of his rookie contract? The Colts suspended Richardson for two games in January, the first being their AFC Championship Game loss at New England.
Because he was suspended, the Colts will expect that money to be freed up and not count against the salary cap. That would allow the team to spend a little more in free agency. But expect the NFLPA to file a grievance on Richardson’s behalf to get him his money. The Colts will say, among other things, that he violated team rules by missing a walk-through practice before the AFC title game.
What won’t be in dispute is the Colts made a mistake on Sept. 18, 2013, by shipping a 2014 first-round draft choice to the Cleveland Browns to acquire the man drafted just behind Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Richardson averaged 3.1 yards per carry in 29 games. Too many times, he seemed to lack the vision to see the holes or the explosiveness to get through them.
Other running backs — Ahmad Bradshaw, Dan Herron and Donald Brown (2013) — outperformed him. In two seasons, for which “T-Rich” was paid $3.3 million, he ran for 977 yards and six touchdowns on 316 carries.
The Colts did their best to stand by the running back until the very end. When he struggled in his first season, head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson said it was because he had to learn a new offense and that took time. Richardson admitted he was on the field and didn’t have any idea what he was supposed to do on some plays.
Entering 2014, everyone said Richardson would improve because he was familiar with the offense. When he didn’t, Pagano insisted he would continue to play, and when asked why the coach adamantly said, “Because he’s our starting running back.”
Near season’s end, that couldn’t be said. Richardson didn’t start the last two regular-season games nor any of three playoff games. He was inactive and did not make the flight to New England for the AFC title game, after which the team announced he had been suspended. He started in 20 of 29 regular-season games the past two seasons.
The former college All-American from Alabama reportedly had weight issues, according to ESPN’s Mike Wells, who cited an unnamed source. Richardson’s situation became a constant headline in the last two months of the season.
Fans vented their frustrations about him on social media. Even in the last month, they were asking why Richardson had not yet been released, as was expected especially after other players with issues — safety LaRon Landry, offensive tackle Xavier Nixon and linebacker Andrew Jackson — were cut loose in February.
Richardson is just 24, so it’s possible another NFL team will give him a look, but at far less money than he’s made in three seasons.
As for the other running back that few remember, Hill appeared in two postseason games on special teams. He spent time on the practice squad last season.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.