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Trent Richardson and Sunk Cost Theory

Trent Richardson and Sunk Cost Theory

Colts fans are ecstatic.


Browns fans are apoplectic.


The Cleveland Browns.  Sometimes you just wonder, “what on earth are you doing here, Cleveland Browns?”

But they won’t answer back.

The newest “What on Earth are you doing here, Cleveland Browns?” came today, when they traded former 3rd overall pick Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts.

The Same Trent Richardson for whom the Browns traded the 4th, 118th, 139th and 211th picks to Vikings to move up ONE spot and get Trent Richardson.

To the same Colts who had the 1st overall pick in that same draft.  (You may have heard of the kid they took.)


This move was undoubtedly about the future.  They saw an opportunity to (theoretically) improve in the future and they took it.

Was Trent Richardson their best talent?


Was Trent Richardson irreplaceable?

Probably not.

Will The Browns rue this day?

It’s the Browns, of course they will!


Fans all over are killing the Browns, for the reasons I’ve stated above.


You’ll hear a lot of this “You traded a first, fourth, fifth and seventh pick to get One season and two games out of Trent and ONLY get back a middle first rounder?”

Which is correct.  But not what anyone should be outraged about.

You see Trent Richardson is a model for “Sunken Cost”

A Sunk Cost is a cost that cannot be recovered once it has been incurred.


So A car you buy for you 10 grand, you can resell for 8 grand.  You have a sunk cost of 2 grand.


So Trent Richardson has a sunk cost of 4 draft picks.  You can never get those back.

And, like a car, you cannot expect those back.

So when the Browns traded a running back that was never getting them to a Super Bowl (not that he wasn’t their best player) they got a first rounder.

Those that believe they shorted themselves in the deal may be right, but only if they believe that Cleveland could have gotten a better deal.

Anyone that believes that Trent Richardson warranted more than a first rounder because of what The Browns paid for him, has fallen victim to the sunk cost fallacy.

The Sunk Cost Fallacy is what makes you continually put money for repairs into your shitty used car because, “Well I’ve already put 2 grand into it.”

Or it makes you hold on to a player that your front office believes is not the guy, simply because you traded up for him.


Or worse, it makes you hold on to a Player because you overspent on him even though there’s absolutely no future for him in your organization and you’ll never let him sniff the field, but you’d rather have him do nothing for you then just pay him to leave.

Did Somebody Mention Me?


So, though I’m certain in pure Cleveland fashion this will manage to blow up in their face, the Browns made smart, prudent, forward thinking decision.

They gave up a guy that doesn’t fit in with their plans.  And they did it while he still had great value.

They made the right decision.  That I’m sure of.

Now of course, they have to not blow the pick they got.

That I’m not so sure of!




Carlo is a New England based writer and performer.  He hopes to get extra credit for this.