CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – It didn’t take long for former Browns president Mike Holmgren to weigh in on the trade that has everyone in the NFL talking.
In an interview with Dave “Softy” Mahler on Sportsradio KJR in Seattle, Holmgren ripped the trade that saw the Browns ship running back Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for the Colts 2014 first-round draft pick while claiming that he offered the Browns’ entire 2012 draft to Indianapolis for the No. 1 pick to pick Andrew Luck.
Holmgren didn’t believe it at first when he learned of the deal – from his daughter who called him.
“I thought she was kidding around, I didn’t believe it, I really didn’t,” Holmgren told Mahler. “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.”
Holmgren and former-Browns general manager Tom Heckert traded the Browns’ first (No. 4), fourth (No. 118), fifth (No. 139) and seventh (No. 211) round picks to the Minnesota Vikings to move up 1 slot to No. 3 and pick Richardson in April 2012.
After being unimpressed with the first 2 games that saw him run for 105 yards on 31 carries, CEO Joe Banner and new general manager Mike Lombardi turned the former Alabama back into a second-first rounder in 2014.
Holmgren believes the deal is a sign that the front office has thrown in the towel on the season.
“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,” Holmgren said. “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.”
Mahler asked Holmgren what he’d do if he were in the position of Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski and such a trade was discussed upstairs in the front office.
“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,” Holmgren said. “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.”
Holmgren also views the message that was sent to the locker room following the trade to be just as negative as the one sent to fans.
“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,” Holmgren said. “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.”
In 3 years in Cleveland, Holmgren failed to land the Browns a franchise quarterback.
Colt McCoy, taken in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft, was more of an experiment more than he was a bust. Then there was the whole RG3 debacle with St. Louis in March of 2012 leading up to the draft.
Holmgren told Mahler that he made one last ditch effort to land a star quarterback before going to plan C which was Richardson and then eventually Weeden when he talked to Colts general manager Ryan Grigson at the owner’s meetings.
“I talked to him before we made the trade,” Holmgren said. “I said I’ll give all our draft picks for the No. 1 pick and I’ll take Luck. I’ll give the whole draft to you. Yes, last year at the owners meetings. The whole thing for Luck.”
Grigson turned it down and kept Luck for the Colts.
Holmgren was subsequently shown the door Nov. 30 after the Browns changed hands and Banner took over as CEO in late October. Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur were fired by Haslam and Banner on Dec. 31.
It doesn’t seem like they’re done with the housecleaning from Holmgren’s tenure either.
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