In a surprising twist of events, the Ravens have signed former #3 overall draft pick Trent Richardson, adding him to a running back position which is already loaded. Richardson, who was out of football for all of 2015, joins 2nd year player Javorius Allen, veteran Justin Forsett, and 2014 draftees Lorenzo Taliaferro and Terrance West.
Richardson last played for the Indianapolis Colts in 2014, and he was not a very productive player, averaging 3.3 Y/A on 159 attempts. The other Colts backs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Daniel Herron averaged 4.8 and 4.7 Y/A respectively, and combined for 9 total touchdowns (6 receiving for Bradshaw) to Richardson's 3 touchdowns.
This followed a solid career in Cleveland, after the Browns took him 3rd overall in the 2012 draft. Richardson looked promising in his rookie year, rushing for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns on 267 carries. He added 51 receptions for 367 yards and another touchdown. But his sophomore season he was traded to the Colts after just 2 games, for a 1st round pick, where he averaged 2.9 Y/A in 2013, with 157 carries for 458 yards and 3 touchdowns. He added 265 receiving yards and another touchdown.
However, Richardson has experienced success against the AFC North teams, averaging 100 all purpose yards against the Steelers and Bengals, and over 90 against the Ravens. All those teams are known to be stout on the defensive side of the ball, with the Steelers and Ravens generally having tough run defenses. He also has been a solid short yardage back, something the Ravens have not had since Willis McGahee left Baltimore. This is a skill the Ravens do not have from their current stable of backs, so if Richardson can show the ability and explosiveness he displayed in college that made him a top 5 pick, the Ravens will have no choice but to make room for him on the roster.
This could spell the end for veteran Justin Forsett, who would represent a $2.3 million cap savings, or Lorenzo Taliaferro, who has not shown he can stay healthy and on the football field. Or Richardson could flame out once again and be cut in the preseason. Time will tell.