The trade that sent RB Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday will go down in history, but it's far from the end of the world. In fact, when I wrote my editorial reaction to the trade, coupled with the fact that we might be bringing veteran RB Willis McGahee in to replace him this season, I was actually pretty excited.
McGahee was in Berea for a physical on Thursday, although he wasn't finished with it for the start of practice. Later in the day, it was confirmed that he had passed the physical and signed a one-year deal.
Cleveland what up!!!!!!!— Willismcgahee (@WillisMcGahee) September 19, 2013
McGahee is reportedly in great shape as he comes off of an injury that resulted in his release from the Denver Broncos in the offseason. Specifically, McGahee had suffered a torn MCL and a compression fracture of the tibia on his right leg mid-way through the 2012 season. He has been trying out for a couple of teams lately, though, and has passed his physicals. If he is healthy -- and that is a big if -- I love this acquisition, even if he is just a stop-gap solution.
Richardson obviously has more potential than McGahee long-term, but at this stage of their career, I think McGahee could end up performing better in this offense than Richardson. McGahee is an all-around back, although he doesn't catch passes as often as a guy like Richardson would.
The veteran back averaged 4.63 yards per carry the past two seasons in Denver, and has averaged 4.1 yards per carry in his career. That is a much higher clip than Richardson was getting. He is also very good in pass protection, meaning the coaching staff can keep him in on third-down situations. McGahee can also provide leadership in a huddle that was lacking a veteran presence at positions besides left tackle and center.
I also think this gives the Browns the opening to utilize Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey more at the running back position. The Ravens find a good balance in using their backup, Bernard Pierce, as do the Texans with Ben Tate. McGahee isn't going to be a work horse back, so those guys should get their touches. As for whether McGahee suits up this Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, that remains to be seen. He will have only had Friday to practice with the team:
#Browns announce signing of McGahee deal. Source close to McGahee said he's unsure whether veteran back will play Sunday.— Tom Reed (@treed1919) September 19, 2013
UPDATE from Friday Morning:
Browns RB Willis McGahee will play Sunday vs. Minnesota; system similar to one he played under in Baltimore.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 20, 2013
Speaking more on the removal of Richardson from the division, it sounds like the Ravens and Bengals are happy:
Pagano got texts from Ravens players thanking him for getting Richardson out of the division.— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) September 19, 2013
"We go to Cleveland next week & I'm feeling pretty good about that, a little better now" Marvin Lewis on @SiriusXMNFL on T. Richardson trade— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) September 19, 2013
I think they are happy because Richardson could deliver some physical blows to their defenders. As for the guy who actually picks up more yardage on the ground and protects our quarterback better? That could be McGahee.