Redskins hope ex-Steeler is a steal Richardson acquired for 7th-round pick

September 03, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

Linebacker Huey Richardson, who cost the Pittsburgh Steelers a first-round pick and $1.6 million last year, was traded to the Washington Redskins yesterday for a seventh-round draft choice.

Richardson, the 15th player chosen in the 1991 draft, made just two tackles for the Steelers. The last time they unloaded a first-rounder the year after they drafted him was in 1967, when they cut running back Dick Leftridge.

The Redskins, though, figured it was worth a seventh-round pick to take a look at Richardson.

"Sometimes a change of scenery does a guy a world of good," general manager Charley Casserly said. "We're taking a chance on a young guy we liked in college."

The Steelers' new coach, Bill Cowher, announced Tuesday that Richardson would be cut if he wasn't traded because he wasn't one of the team's best 47 players.

"I think it's commendable that this organization is committed to keeping the best 47 players [regardless of where they were drafted]," Cowher said.

Just a year ago, Richardson was rated a first-rounder by the scouts of virtually all teams when he came out of the University of Florida after earning Academic All-America honors as an economics major. The Steelers gave him a $1.25 million signing bonus and a $325,000 first-year salary.

It turned out he was injury prone -- he played in just five games as he broke his nose in a walk-through drill, injured his thumb and then underwent arthroscopic knee surgery.

Richardson never seemed to fit in with the team. When the players were asked to sign five balls for a charity in the team's lunch room, he was the only one who refused. He also didn't talk to the media.

Cowher insisted Richardson's attitude wasn't a factor in the decision.

"His attitude was fine and he worked as hard if not harder than any player on the football field," Cowher said.

The Steelers first tried him as an inside linebacker and then moved him outside where he couldn't cover receivers. He wasn't big enough (233 pounds) to play defensive end.

The Redskins said that when Richardson joins them today, he will conduct a news conference, although not talking to the media isn't a particular negative for them -- veteran Art Monk rarely does.

"We have heard all the negatives and don't have any questions about the attitude thing," Casserly said.

Casserly admits he's taking a gamble.

"I'm not sitting here saying it's the greatest trade in the world," Casserly said. "We've done our research on the guy. He's a quality young man. Whether he can play or how good he'll play, we'll find out ourselves over time. For the price, we couldn't turn it down."

In effect, the Redskins are investing $400,000 -- Richardson's salary this year -- and will find out in camp next year if they think he can help them. He will be on the two-man inactive list for Monday night's game in Dallas and probably won't play much this season.

Richardson's agent, Ralph Cindrich, said his client loves children and went to watch the agent's son play Little League ball in the rain.

"He's a first-class individual and his heart is as big as a room. He calls my wife, 'mom.' He's a loner and a different kind of a guy. He's a little kid in a man's body and he still has to grow up. The Redskins had nothing to lose," Cindrich said.

The Redskins aren't the only team who think Richardson is worth a second look.

Dick Haley, a New York Jets scout who was in Pittsburgh last year when the Steelers drafted him, said, "He [has] always been the kind of player who takes time to settle in. You get very excited about the intensity, the intelligence, the effort. This is a very bright guy who grows on you."

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