Which players will benefit from the T-Rich trade, and which players will suffer?
What I haven't seen as many people talking about, however, is how this trade will affect the individual players on Richardson's new and old teams. The gain/loss of a player as extremely talented as Richardson is sure to have an affect on the players of the teams involved. I'm going to take a look at the players who are poised to benefit the most (the "winners") as a result of this trade, as well as the players who are likely to suffer (the "losers").
Trent Richardson (RB - IND): Through the first two weeks of the 2013 season, Richardson was the only playmaker on the field for the Browns along with tight end Jordan Cameron. Defenses were able to easily key in on Richardson and take away the Browns' most dangerous weapon, daring the team to put the game into the hands of quarterback Brandon Weeden, who had virtually no one to throw to and struggled mightily in his own right. The Browns' complete lack of a perimeter receiving presence allowed defenses to essentially ignore the two perimeter deep thirds of the field and crash the box, making life incredibly difficult on Richardson. The second-year runner has led all running backs in Pro Football Focus' elusiveness rating through two games - meaning that his disappointing 3.4 YPC mark is a result of being swarmed at the line of scrimmage.
Now on the Colts, Richardson will have a strong arm in Andrew Luck and a plethora of field-stretching receivers to take some of the defensive focus away from him. The Colts' offensive line is not as good as the Browns', especially considering the recent loss of Donald Thomas, but an offensive line can only create so many holes when the defense knows that all the offense can do is run the ball. Richardson's YPC numbers should skyrocket in Indy - he's a big winner in this trade.
Andrew Luck (QB - IND): While playing with a great quarterback benefits the production of Richardson, adding a sensational talent to the backfield should make life a lot easier for Luck. Where defenses had not feared the pedestrian talents of Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw, they will now have to game plan around Richardson. This will cause more players up near the line of scrimmage, more effective play action fakes, and less safety help on the back end of the secondary - all of which should result in more deep one-on-one looks for Luck's receivers. Luck should also face less of a pass rush for reasons you can find in the "Castonzo/Cherilus" section below.
T.Y. Hilton (WR - IND): The Colts' premier deep threat benefits for many of the same reasons as Luck. Defenses paying more attention to the run game will allow Hilton to get behind the defense more frequently. It's really as simple as that. If a defense brings their safeties up to contain Richardson, a cornerback will have to run with the electrifying Hilton without safety help, which is a matchup that Hilton and Luck will often capitalize on.
Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus (OT's - IND): When a defense is not afraid of your rushing attack, they can sell out on the pass and send their edge rushers full bore at the quarterback. With a terrifying threat like Richardson in the backfield, however, an all-out edge rush could result in the running back exploding through the 2 or 3 gap and breaking off a huge play. Edge rushers will have to stay at home for a split second longer with Richardson on the team - especially on play action - which should make life a whole lot easier on the Colts' two offensive tackles.