Former Alabama All-American Trent Richardson still has hopes of playing in the NFL again. But he thinks if the Cleveland Browns hadn't traded him, he wouldn't be on the outside looking in now.
Richardson talked about his football future and his time in Cleveland on Tuesday afternoon during an appearance on "Bull and Fox" on WKRK-FM in Cleveland.
"I am doing everything and anything to get back in the NFL," Richardson said. "I just need a tryout. I just need a shot. And I know when I get that shot, the team will not be sorry for giving me that opportunity. It'll be one of the best stories ever, one of the best comebacks ever."
Richardson hasn't played in an NFL regular-season game since Dec. 28, 2014. After his third NFL season, the Indianapolis Colts released him.
Richardson went to training camp with the Oakland Raiders in 2015, but he didn't make the team. Richardson got a chance with the Baltimore Ravens in 2016, but a hamstring problem and arthroscopic knee surgery kept him sidelined, and he was waived before he ever got on the field during training camp.
Last season, Richardson played in four games for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League.
Richardson ran for 20 yards on five carries in a 27-24 victory over the Toronto Argonauts on Oct. 8, 60 yards on 14 carries in a 33-32 loss to the Ottawa Redblacks on Oct. 13 and 52 yards on nine carries in a 30-7 victory over the Calgary Stampeders on Oct. 20 before breaking out for 127 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in a 37-12 victory over the Montreal Alouettes on Oct. 27.
After his late arrival in the CFL, Richardson had an early exit, missing the Roughriders' final regular-season game and their two playoff contests because of an ankle injury suffered late in the game against Montreal.
"I think it got better as it went along," Richardson said of his CFL performance. "The first couple of games, I didn't touch the ball that much because I came in and it was already started. Picking up the plays on the go is different."
Richardson said he wouldn't rule out returning to the CFL if he didn't catch on with an NFL team.
"I'm not saying it's off the radar," Richardson said. "I owe the CFL a lot for giving me the opportunity to come out there and showcase my talents, give me another chance. (Saskatchewan) coach Chris Jones has been a big influence and a very positive role in my life. I talk to him almost every other day. We text all the time. I send guys his way that played at Alabama or guys that I know that can still play."
Richardson said the CFL had allowed him to fall in love with football again and to play for himself. He said he was grateful to the Roughriders for "digging out that dog in me again."
"Last time I got to play for myself, I was a little boy," Richardson said.
Twelve days after the opening of NFL free agency for the 2018 offseason, many players remain on the market.
Richardson won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's best collegiate running back and finished third in the balloting for the Heisman Trophy while helping Alabama win the 2011 BCS national championship.
The Cleveland Browns selected Richardson with the third choice in the 2012 NFL Draft and signed him to a four-year, guaranteed contract worth $20,489,796. Richardson moved to Cleveland with his brother, mother, children, girlfriend, cousins and a friend.
Despite several injuries, Richardson ran for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns on 267 carries and caught 51 passes for 367 yards and one TD in 15 games in his rookie season.
But two games into his second NFL season, Cleveland traded Richardson to the Colts for a first-round draft choice.
"I know it would have went way better for me, man," Richardson said when asked how he envisioned his career if he hadn't been traded. "When that happened, it just really took a lot from me, man, like love for the game. ... I didn't respect it no more. I never played football for the business part. I never played football for the dollar. I played football because I loved football. That's always been my first love."