There’s no doubting that Trent Richardson‘s collegiate career at Alabama was full of luster and prominence.
But when the former Heisman candidate entered the NFL, it began to fall apart. Now with the Raiders, Richardson is looking to bounce into a new scheme which he believes suits him better than the last two.
Richardson played well enough in Cleveland, and with a few relatively serious injuries, but said the time he spent in Indianapolis wasn’t fun for him:
“From the beginning, trying to fit into their program, it was different for me. For me, it was more of me being an all-time blocker. There’s nothing wrong with blocking, but I still want to be able to help the team in different types of ways. I don’t look at it as a bad thing. I just think it was a bad marriage.”
The Colts parted with a first-round draft pick which ultimately became quarterback Johnny Manziel, a hefty price tag for a position considered to be devalued during draft season.
Richardson averaged just over three yards per rushing attempt in a season and a half in Indianapolis, and 494 receiving yards on 55 catches. He said:
“Just looking back on it, that’s a taste that you never want to get in your mouth again. Hopefully this is my last stop, and I’m going to do whatever I can to make this my last stop. Until I’m ready to walk away from the game, I don’t want to leave here.”
He mentioned broken ribs and left out an arthroscopic knee surgery which occurred just before his NFL career began. His bruising style that was perfect for the college game might need some tweaks to work now.
Richardson said his short time — and the failures that he has endured in the NFL — has been humbling:
“The very first humbling experience I had was getting traded. I spent the whole year, just wondering, why in the world and how in the world did I get traded. Looking back at it, even if they said it was a business move, in my head, it’s still some type of, ‘OK, you still got traded.’”
Even though he’s struggled, his education hasn’t slowed. Richardson recalls some of the players who he can take something from:
“These last few years, it’s been very humbling, being able to play with Ahmad Bradshaw and be able to play with guys like Reggie Wayne and Robert Mathis and Andrew [Luck]. It just takes you back to the basics, you’ve just got to be able to just perform, no matter what. With that, I just go back to my old pedigree. I had the Julio [Jones], the Mark Ingram, the AJ McCarron and the Eddie Lacy all on one team. It’s just big for me to get back to the basics.”
Richardson will need to get back to the basics so long as the Raiders depth chart includes Latavius Murray and Roy Helu. He wants to be a starter, and says anyone on a team should, but the proposition is daunting.
His signing with Oakland is a buy-low type of deal, but the numbers don’t scream it. The contract has been reported as two years, and almost $4 million. Not a lot, but more than some expected.
The Raiders are approaching the salary cap now, with 11 signings in the first full week of free agency. They may begin to release players of lesser names — and even longtime kicker Sebastian Janikowski — to add more wiggle room.
Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.