This time last year the Raiders had added former number three overall pick Trent Richardson, who had been cut by the Colts, in the hopes he could resurrect his once promising career in Oakland. Richardson was on his third stop in just three years in the NFL and what looked to be his last.
Things didn't go well for Richardson in Oakland. When he arrived, the team immediately put weight goals in place. Knowing his chances were slimming, he need to start doing likewise. His efforts were tripped up when he started training camp on the non-football illness list with what he later said was a bout with pneumonia.
"Trent is here (at training camp), he came back very close to the weight, which was a pretty ambitious goal to get to and he's down in the low 220s," said Del Rio. "That's what we asked of him, that's where he was as a player at 'Bama. I really believe with him committing himself like that and getting himself in that type of shape, he'll have a chance to come out here and show what he's really capable of."
After having been traded away by the Browns just a year after drafting him, and then cut by the Colts just two seasons after they traded a first round pick to acquire him, the weight issues were clearly a major concern.
Even at that time, Richardson didn't get it. He mocked the Colts for holding firm to their weight restrictions and imposing penalties on him for not meeting them.
Though Richardson was able to get down to the desired weight with the Raiders, it may have already been too late. While he should have been at camp with his teammates, building muscle, and competing for a roster spot, he fell behind and never recovered. He didn't make the regular season roster.
That's when he had to take a look at himself.
"I didn't hit rock bottom, but I was right there to where it's like, OK, I get it," Richardson told Al.com. "To look my kids in the face after getting cut by Oakland and tell them I didn't have a job and to not know what was going to be my next turn, that really bit me in the butt."
Failed tryouts for several other teams after that and being out of football for a season gave Richardson, still just 25-years-old, plenty to think about.
Finally, he began to realize what several other teams had already realized, and the reason the Raiders wanted him to return to the weight he was at Alabama - because that's the last time he really put in the work to be great.
"It's very easy to get lazy in the NFL -- not having everything scheduled and not having everything like at Alabama where it was so structured," Richardson said. "We had study hall or we had to get a workout in in between classes and had five classes a day. It was just so structured. In the NFL, everything's on your own."
This offseason, he has been talking with the Ravens. Then he showed up for a workout with the team 238 pounds - some 15 pounds over the weight goals the Raiders had placed on him and 10 pounds over his weight at his Alabama Pro Day. So, unlike the Raiders who signed him before putting weight goals on him, the Ravens won't bring him in until he reaches a ‘physical benchmark'.
"It's in Trent's court," Harbaugh told reporters at the owners meeting last week. "... He's keeping me posted on his training. I'm planning on Trent being a Raven right now. I'm kind of excited about it. Talking to him on the phone, I really like him. I'm excited. Here's a high-caliber, high draft pick guy that seems like he's really motivated and wants to do well. So Trent, keep working, man. Keep working hard. See you in a couple of weeks."
Richardson said when he first showed up in Raiders camp, that he was driven to prove himself.
"I'm very driven," Richardson said in last year's camp. "First of all because I got kids. Second of all I got a lot to prove to myself. Everybody wants to put pressure on me and that pressure is nothing but greatness. These people want me to be great out here."
He is saying similar now, but perhaps with a greater sense of urgency.
"This motivates me even more, motivates me to not let coach Harbaugh down for taking this chance," Richardson said. "I had to readjust and come back and write my playbook over. If I didn't, what was I going to get back? The same results? Nah. Just came back, doing what I did to get here and get past here and to get to a Pro Bowl, and I want to be that yellow jacket (a Hall of Famer). I know I've got that talent. I know I've got that pedigree. And I'm going to be that. That's what I need. That's what I'm going to be.
"And whether they want to hear it or not, I'm going to show it. This is what I'm going to do. I'm going to prove it. And like I keep saying, it's going to be fun looking people in the eye and hearing what they have to say after this year."
Hard to believe it would take this many chances for anyone to wake up and put forth the effort necessary to keep their NFL dream alive. We'll see if this time he can live up to his potential.