Colts running back Trent Richardson will not be making the trip to New England with the team for personal reasons, and will be inactive during tomorrow’s AFC Championship game against the Patriots, reports Kevin Bowen of Colts.com (via Twitter).
Richardson was a healthy scratch last week as the Colts elected to activate special teams player Michael Hill for the game against the Broncos in Denver. In reaction to last week’s benching, Richardson vowed it would be the last time it happens, according to Zak Keefer of IndyStar.com. “That situation will never happen to me again,” Richardson said. “Anybody can quote me, today, because it’s never going to happen again.”
Dan Herron has taken over as the top back for the Colts over the last few games, with Zurlon Tipton backing him up. Herron was a Bengals sixth round draft pick in 2012, lasting one year with the team before signing with Indianapolis, and Tipton was signed as an undrafted free agent this year.
This suddenly public battle between Richardson and the team puts his future in Indianapolis in jeopardy. General manager Ryan Grigson notoriously traded a first-round draft pick to acquire Richardson from the Browns only 17 games into his pro career. Since then, Richardson has never caught on as a productive NFL running back. He has been consistently disappointing, barely amassing 2,000 yards in three seasons and only averaging 3.3 yards per carry over the course of his short career.
As a top three pick in 2012, Richardson is viewed as one of the biggest busts in recent history. Albert Breer of NFL.com compares the back to former Raiders’ quarterback JaMarcus Russell, Rams’ offensive tackle Jason Smith, and Raiders’ offensive tackle Robert Gallery (via Twitter).
Richardson has one more year on his contract, and is due $3.184MM in base salary for 2015. That number is guaranteed, and the team will not save a cent by releasing him this offseason, according to OverTheCap.com. Still, if he is unable to contribute in any facet, including special teams, he will hardly be worth a valuable roster spot to sit on the bench.
The Colts would get out from under Richardson’s contract with no dead money on their cap if they are able to trade the underwhelming ball carrier, but that would be unlikely at this point, even for just a late-round pick.
While some may speculate that this has something to do with Richardson’s unhappiness after possibly being benched again, Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star cautions against such assumptions, writing instead that it could very well be a personal matter that is keeping him away from the game (via Twitter). Holder notes that the only time players do not travel with the team are in the case of being ruled out be injury or due to extenuating circumstances (via Twitter).