The Trent Richardson situation has certainly been a strange one over the last month. He missed the team's flight to New England for the AFC Championship game due to personal reasons, missing a walkthrough due to a "very serious family emergency." We later found out that Richardson was suspended two games by the team for personal reasons, which was failing to notify the team that he was missing the walkthrough. The suspension voids the guaranteed money in his contract, meaning the Colts could cut him this offseason and not have to pay him. More recently, a report from ESPN's Mike Wells noted that the Colts grew frustrated with Richardson over weight issues, a lack of accessibility, and absence.
However, sources said his absence was the result of serious complications with his girlfriend's pregnancy that could potentially have endangered the life of the child.
These sources said the mother was experiencing contractions and appeared to be in premature labor at just 28 weeks of pregnancy.
Richardson, sources said, rushed her to the hospital in the early-morning hours of Jan. 17 - the same day the team departed for the New England game - missing that morning's walkthrough in Indianapolis and the team's chartered flight.
Assuming Holder's report is accurate (and there's zero reason to think it's not), this isn't a good look. We all understand that the suspension was more a result of the growing frustration with the running back - and Holder does note that Richardson was fined multiple times for exceeding the weight limit the Colts set (and were perfectly permitted to set, too) - but the reason they suspended Richardson was for missing the walkthrough. With the information we have right now, it looks an awful lot like the Colts found this as a way to get off the hook for having to pay Richardson the $3.18 million in guaranteed money that he was owed. There's really no doubt that the Colts will cut Richardson this offseason, but this suspension looks a lot like the Colts trying to get off the hook for having to pay him.
In some situations, that's fine. But when Richardson missed one walkthrough because his girlfriend was having serious complications with her pregnancy? When did a walkthrough become more important than the life of a child? Sure, Richardson should have contacted the Colts and let them know. But don't you think an organization could show a little bit of leeway with a situation like that?
Understand, if this was another player that was still going to be around next season, there likely wouldn't have been a suspension. If this was a player the Colts weren't already intending on cutting, there likely would have been no suspension for this issue, and it's likely that if Richardson's guaranteed money wasn't voided by a suspension there would have been no suspension either. With the information we have now it looks like the Colts saw this missed walkthrough as an opportunity to get away from having to pay the money to the running back.
There's no doubt that there were a lot of issues with Trent Richardson this year. In addition to his poor play on the field, we've heard of weight issues, the team not being able to contact him after the week eleven game against the Patriots and fining him for missing a meeting that day (per Holder), and then the missed walkthrough - plus he was inactive against the Broncos in the Divisional Round of the playoffs because of his poor play. It was a very rough season for Trent Richardson and the Colts have legitimate reason to be very frustrated with him. The running back won't be a Colt next season. But this particular situation, with the Colts suspending Richardson because he missed a walkthrough with his girlfriend experiencing complications with her pregnancy and the life of his child possibly in danger, perhaps all in a move to get rid of the guaranteed money and not have to pay Richardson, isn't a good look for the franchise.
With all of this said, whenever the Colts do decide to cut Richardson and void his contract there will be an appeal by the NFLPA, and it will be very interesting to see what happens. Maybe the Colts technically have the right to suspend Richardson because of the missed walkthrough and maybe that technically gets them off the hook for his guaranteed money, but that shouldn't be the way they do business.
The Colts have had a rough enough start to the offseason without this situation, and regardless of whether they're technically allowed to suspend him and void the guaranteed money because he missed the walkthrough, it's certainly not a good look for a franchise that repeatedly and effusively preaches family first.