In an interview today with Sports Radio 950 KJR in Seattle, former Browns President Mike Holmgren ripped the new regime for trading running back Trent Richardson, the third overall pick in last year’s draft, to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a 2014 first-round pick.
Last year, Holmgren and ex-Browns General Manager Tom Heckert traded selections in the first (No. 4), fourth (No. 118), fifth (No. 139) and seventh (No. 211) rounds to the Minnesota Vikings, so they could move up to No. 3 spot and pick Richardson, who starred at the University of Alabama.
After Jimmy Haslam bought the Browns last year, he replaced Holmgren with CEO Joe Banner. Holmgren spent his last day with the organization Nov. 30. Haslam and Banner fired Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur on Dec. 31.
Now he’s verbally blasting Banner and Co. for trading Richardson.
Holmgren, a Super Bowl-winning coach, said if he was in Browns coach Rob Chudzinski’s shoes, he would ask to be fired or quit because of the trade.
Below is the transcript that Sports Radio 950 KJR distributed to reporters (click here for the audio).
On the trade: “When I was told about it, as a matter of fact my daughter phoned me because she reads eeverything and listens to everything. I thought she was kidding around, I didn’t believe it, I really didn’t. I went on my computer and saw it and I had a lot of emotions because I really like the young man. I really think he’s an outstanding football player. He was something that we needed when we picked him last year. He had a really fine first year, he had a really good. He played through pain and through injury and so I was startled by it. On the surface…I tried to make sense of it…It appears after seeing the press conference that they aren’t coming right out and saying it but they are preparing for next year and next years draft. If I listen to the coach who said we want to be competitive. They don’t know who’s going to be the running back this week. How do you make your team better by trading your best player? He’s their best offensive player. He’s a valuable, valuable guy. To me, they are putting all their eggs into next season. This season…they started off 0-2 and they couldn’t score any points and I think it was a knee-jerk reaction. There’s a little bit of what’s going on, what’s happening. I don’t know that for sure but I can sense it. To do this as an answer, to get a No. 1 [first-round] pick which people are going to talk about, but Indianapolis is going to have a good year so that pick will be 23-24 right in there. To package something, we couldn’t package our No. 4 and [No. 22] for [Robert] Griffin last year and we had more ammunition so I don’t know, I struggle with it.”
On what Holmgren would do if he was the coach in this situation: “Philosophically, if I’m the coach and someone came in anywhere and did that, said we’re going to do this, my response would be fire me or I’m going to quit or we’re both going to go into the owner and talk about this and then we’ll see who’s standing. Now clearly the coach [Rob Chudzinski] is okay with this. They sat at the news conference together so they have to be okay with it. I personally would not be okay with it was my best offensive player, a young guy not an eight-year veteran. He’s a young guy.”
On Chudzinski going along with the trade: “I don’t know him, I don’t know the coach. I know people that know him and say he’s a great coach and a good guy and he’s been around the league long enough but you’re right it’s his first head-coaching job I believe. But boy oh boy there would be a conversation.”
On if Holmgren was call into the office to make this move, his reaction would be: “I’d shake hands and walk. I would quit on the spot. If I disagreed with it and I couldn’t buy in I would. I’m not saying I’m right that’s just what I would do. You have to be true to yourself in this business.”
On how he would sell this to the players in the locker room: “That was asked of them at the press conference. They said we have great chemistry and great this and great that which I’m sure they do because I know most of those guys. But at the same time you can’t tell me some of those players aren’t asking the same questions you and I are asking. They were friends with him and it’s just too wild, this sort of thing doesn’t happened and it happened. Asking questions and having questions about it is natural.”
On how much Richardson helps the Colts: “Oh boy. Indoor, on turf, I believe their stadium is turf. [Ryan] Grigson, who’s their general manager, … said last year I talked to him before we made the trade I said I’ll give all our draft picks for the No.1 pick and I’ll take [Andrew] Luck. I’ll give the whole draft to you. Yes, last year at the owners meetings…The whole thing for [Andrew] Luck. So we’re at the pool and he was having one of those drinks with the umbrella with it so I thought I could take advantage of it [laughing]. It was speculation on who they were going to take so I said lets do it now. We had two in the first…we had a pretty good group. We had traded down our No.1 the year before to get more picks and bolster the team. But you know we were by the pool, I might have even had a lemonade in my hand as well so he probably didn’t take me seriously but I was ready to pull the trigger. But they were going to take him [Andrew Luck], they should have taken him, they did the right thing. But he said if there was some crazyness would have happened they would have taken Trent Richardson. If you asked him [Grigson] last year would you trade your 27th pick for Richardson they would do it.”
On how often trade offers like that happen: “Never. I probably offered it. If he said okay I probably would have choked.”
On if the offer ever got presented to Jim Irsay: “No. They told me they had already made up their minds. I saw Jim Irsay and said I was going to give you a great deal for Luck. He was like nah.’”
If he was in the Colts position would he have made the trade: “No. If it’s a franchise quarterback a slam dunk which is … look at what’s happening with [Robert] Griffin this year. Injuries are the wild card, you never quite done. Luck is about as sure thing that’s come along in a long time he’s a really good player.”