Trent Richardson, of all the Alabama players not named Andre Smith, has been the most inexplicable pro disappointment of the Saban era.
There have been more-than-abundant rumors that his head's not into it, that he's had some work ethic problems, that he got out of shape: In short, that he has been a lazy pro. Sure, we can talk about the bad fit in Indy; the lack of an offensive line or competent QB in Cleveland, but the end result is the same, and Trent is now on his third team in four seasons.
Time is running out on the talented Richardson, and make no mistake, this could be his last stop in the NFL.
So, let's check in on what the pro talking heads are saying about Trent and the Raiders.
"People look back and say, 'Does he still have it?'" Richardson said during an appearance on BlabTV in his hometown of Pensacola, Fla., this week. "I look at that and I smile. I think, 'You know what? I'll make sure that you know. I'll make sure that you know that I know that I still have what I used to have back in the day.'"
Yes, but it's not back in the day. The run-to-daylight versus Texas was six years ago. The stutter-stop, near-Heisman run against Ole Miss has long faded. It's a what-have-you-done-lately world when you're drawing a paycheck.
Best case scenario? Richardson rediscovers what he’s been missing the past few seasons, blows the coaching staff away when the pads come on and supplants Murray as the bell cow for the Raiders. More likely scenario? Murray puts his stamp on the starting job early and Richardson finds himself in a complementary role this season, which wouldn’t be the worst thing for either him or the team.
The Raiders.com analyst think Trent has a place in this offense, but it's not necessarily as a starter or the every-down guy. Any carries he gets, he will have to capitalize upon. But, the folks at Silver and Black Pride don't necessarily see it that way, and think that as roster dead weight, he could very well get cut.
According to NFL Media Insider Gregg Rosenthal, Richardson is on the bubble and at risk of getting released in the coming year. The Raiders gave Richardson a risk-free contract after failed stints with both the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts as he is guaranteed just $600,00 of his deal. The running back has simply not looked like the dominant star he was at the University of Alabama as his stock continues to drop in the league.
Head coach Jack Del Rio made it clear that Richardson is competing for a spot alongside Latavius Murray and Roy Helu. If either player were to excel in training camp, Richardson could be on the outside looking in.
It's that dire. A hungry Latavius Murray is locking down the starter spot it appears, and Richardson is competing with the very pedestrian Roy Helu for his professional existence.
So, is it laziness? Is it in his head? This article from AL.com tells me that a great deal of Trent's issues have been between his ears.
"He always tells me, 'Keep all the clutter out of your head.' When he says clutter, he means all the stuff that don't need to be in there. Lay that to the side. You're working now. You're back to football. You need to get back to being humble. This is your platform. This is what you're here to do."
I'm sure the talk was a far scarier, more profane come-to-Jesus, but honestly Trent needs it. If he couldn't play at this level, we wouldn't be so concerned or baffled by this. But, it's going to come down to whether he wants to compete again and fulfill his abundant promise.