Does Trent Richardson Deserve Another Chance in The NFL?

After being cut by the Colts, should Trent Richardson be on an NFL roster?

Three years ago, no one would have expected this.

After two different teams, a lopsided trade where the Colts gave up a first-round pick, and tons of ineffectiveness in between, 24-year-old Trent Richardson is out of a job. Richardson was a highly touted prospect out of Alabama that warranted the third-overall pick in the 2012 draft, and inside of the span of 35 months, he is now a free agent.

Calling Trent Richardson's career an abject failure up to this point is almost inadequate. Over the past two seasons with the Colts, his 3.08 yards per carry average is the worst in the league among running backs with at least 250 totes.

But is he actually "done" in the NFL? Can we give up all hope on Richardson, or does he still have something to offer a team, like he thinks? Let's see what the advanced metrics say.

Factory of Sadness in Indy

If you're new to numberFire, we don't quantify a player's ability in terms of just yardage and touchdowns. Because all situations on the playing field are not created equal, we analyze football in Net Expected Points (NEP), which shows how a player performs above and below what's expected. You can read more about NEP in our glossary.

For the context of Richardson's competence, it's important to keep in mind that passing is more efficient than rushing. Therefore, running backs tend to have lower NEP values overall. With that in mind, below are Richardson's Rushing NEP numbers over the past three seasons. To qualify within the rankings column, a running back must have totaled at least 120 attempts in a given season.

YearRush NEPRankRush NEP per RushSuccess RateSuccess Rank
2012-17.8026th of 31-0.0740.45%22nd of 31
2013-27.1438th of 40-0.1436.70%33rd of 40
2014-13.9530th of 38-0.0936.88%27th of 38

Not shockingly, Richardson's NEP numbers aren't great. Furthermore, his Success Rate over the past two seasons is just in the 20th percentile of 109 possible running backs, and is comparable to the likes of backs like Rashard Mendenhall, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Darren McFadden.

And the story may only get worse.

Trent Richardson's Rushing NEP per attempt of -0.14 and -0.09 in 2013 and 2014 are the worst two single-seasons that a Colts running back with at least 120 carries have had since 2000. Simply put, Richardson's 348 carries over the past two years may have been the most ineffective touches in the league.

Where Does Richardson Go From Here?

I'm not sure if Trent Richardson has played his last snap in the NFL. Like I alluded to before, he was once a five-star recruit coming out of high school. Richardson was also a complete stud, production-wise, coming out of college. He broke Mark Ingram's single-season school record in rushing yards, and broke the SEC record for rushing touchdowns in that same year as well. Again, no one could have possibly seen such an epic downfall to this proportion coming with him.

Of course, NFL prospects flame out for a variety of reasons. And I'm not pinning Richardson's ineptitude at the NFL level on this one singular problem, but apparently he was playing at nearly 240 pounds during the 2014 season with the Colts. That's not to say he'd be significantly better near his pre-college weight of 210 pounds, but it certainly couldn't hurt.

Who knows what's next for Trent Richardson. He could technically get another shot for a team on a one-year tryout with virtually no guaranteed money and come at a very low risk for an organization. Perhaps that's what will happen. But given the metrics, we shouldn't be thinking optimistically.