Modern RB value and cost of instability

Trent Richardson and Alfred Morris beg questions about the relative value of a running back. USA TODAY Sports, Getty Images

There can be no complaining this year about NFL teams failing to make meaningful trades -- not after the Cleveland Browns shipped Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2014 first-round pick.

Jim Irsay, the Colts' outspoken owner, took his excitement to Twitter, teasing followers by alluding to a "MONSTER TRADE" he supposedly did not see coming. The Browns could not herald the arrival of a nameless draft choice seven months into the future, so they played it straight.

This trade revealed plenty about what each team sees in Richardson, and what each team sees when it looks in the mirror. It highlighted the staggering cost of regime change while inviting questions about the value of running backs in what is widely perceived to be a passing era (more on that below). The long-term planning behind trading a highly drafted young starter during the season clashes with the need to field the best possible roster on a week-to-week basis.

Initially, this will be a tough sell in Cleveland and a perceived coup in Indy. Should it be?