Trent Richardson, who is still on the Saskatchewan Roughriders roster, believes he is able to sign with any team for the upcoming football season.
“I can actually get back into the NFL this year, I’m a free agent,” Richardson told Bull and Fox on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland.
“The CFL is not off the radar, but I am doing everything and anything to get back into the NFL. I know when I get that shot that team will not be sorry for giving me that opportunity. It would be the best comeback ever.”
Only one problem: it’s not true.
Richardson signed with the Riders in September and entry-level contracts in the CFL are two-years, meaning Richardson should have a year remaining on his deal covering the 2018 season.
The team confirmed Tuesday that Richardson is still on the roster.
Now, it’s possible that Richardson thinks he has a “handshake deal” with the Riders that would let him pursue an NFL opportunity should one arise. But CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie recently fined the B.C. Lions for such an arrangement involving Micah Awe and has said the league will come down hard teams that try it. The Riders under Chris Jones, it should be said, haven’t been accused of issuing handshake deals.
The 27-year-old Richardson carried the ball 48 times for 259 yards, scoring two touchdowns in four games for Saskatchewan in 2017.
“I’m not saying it’s off the radar because I owe the CFL a lot for giving me the opportunity to come out there and showcase my talent and give me another chance. Coach Chris Jones has been a big influence and played a very positive role in my life. I talk to him almost every other day, we text all the time,” Richardson said.
“I appreciate it so much, I respect the CFL so much. It taught me a lot about myself. Out there by myself…getting back to discovering and digging out that dog in me again. Making sure that I do what I gotta do to be at my best every game, every play, every morning when I wake up.”
The Riders were 3-1 when Richardson was in the lineup and he improved his yards-per-carry each time out. The last game Richardson played was against Montreal and the five-foot-nine, 225-pound back ran for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
“It got better as I went along, but the first couple games I didn’t touch the ball that much because I came in and was already the starter. Picking up the plays right on the go is different. There is only two downs…you get a running play in every now and then. You gotta get what you can,” Richardson said.
“It’s very different and it’s very humbling. At the same time, you learn how to love and respect the game. That was my biggest thing: just falling in love with the game again and doing it for myself. The last time I got to play for myself I was a little boy. I had to humble myself and learn how to respect the game. There are some great players out there, a lot of guys that want to be in the NFL or guys that have the potential to be NFL stars.”
Richardson rushed for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide in 2011. After finishing third in the Heisman Trophy voting that season, behind Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, Richardson ran for 96 yards and one touchdown to help Alabama win the BCS National Championship.
Following the title game victory, Richardson declared for the 2012 NFL Draft. That May, Cleveland traded up to select the five-foot-nine, 230-pound back No. 3 overall. He signed a fully guaranteed four-year $20.4-million deal that included a $13.3-million signing bonus.
“If Cleveland wants to give me a call I’d love to be back. That’s home for me. Whoever – I just need a tryout, I just need a shot,” Richardson said.
Two games into the 2013 NFL season, Indianapolis traded a 2014 first-round pick for Richardson. He spent the rest of the 2013 season and entire 2014 campaign with the Colts. Richardson ran for 977 yards and six touchdowns and recorded 494 yards and one touchdown on 55 catches in 29 games with Indianapolis. The Colts waived Richardson in March 2015.
Oakland signed him five days after his release, $600,000 of the contract was guaranteed but he was let go in late August. The Ravens brought Richardson to the team in April 2016, however, Baltimore cut him in early August, which had him out of football until he came to the Riders.
“Me going out to the CFL was showing I could still do this. I can run routes, I can definitely block, that’s never been a problem, I can run the ball – if you get in front of me I’m still going to run you over, I’m going to get past you some type of way. So that’s always going to be my motto.”