According to team president Joe Banner, the Browns haven't given up on the 2013 season by trading Trent Richardson to the Colts. Although even if they have, the future, for the first time in a long time, looks bright. With some deft moves in next April's draft, the organization has a chance to break out of this perpetual rebuilding mode they've been stuck in since returning to Cleveland in 1999.
Even Richardson, the third-overall pick in 2012, believes this.
"Their group there [in Cleveland], they know what they're doing," Richardson told WOIO-TV (via the Cleveland Plain Dealer). "Browns fans, please get behind them 100 percent, don't lose no fan base over this, still root for them. Keep hope. Because it's going to happen. The Browns are going to be good for a while when it does happen.”
Of course, Richardson was almost certainly in shock when he uttered those words.
"I can't believe it," he said of the trade that no one could believe at first. "I didn't see it coming from anywhere … I appreciate the Browns fans, some of the best fans I've ever been around."
Now it's onward and upward for all parties involved, although Banner concedes that Browns fans have every right to be skeptical of an organization that has a habit of making poor decisions.
"We have to earn their (fans) belief and trust and the decisions we're going to make as a group and I don't expect them to trust that until we prove to them that trust is well placed," Banner said. "So, I understand the skepticism for now, but we have to do what we think is right and move the franchise forward."
First-year coach Rob Chudzinski reiterated that the team's goals remain the same: Win football games.
"The group that we have in that locker room is an extremely competitive group. These guys understand the business aspect of football and I'm a competitive guy and I expect we'll have the same expectations, we'll have the same goals and we're going to play every week to win every week. Nothing has changed from that standpoint."
Next stop: Super Bowl!