Browns receiver Terrelle Pryor was one of the surprise breakout stars of the 2016 NFL season, a former quarterback who played a brand new position and led an otherwise lousy passing offense with 77 catches for 1,007 yards. So why do the Browns appear poised to let Pryor test free agency tomorrow, rather than locking him up to a long-term contract?
The answer appears to be that the analytics department in Cleveland isn’t quite sold on Pryor.
Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland reports that Pryor thinks he can get more than $12 million a year in free agency, and the Browns’ valuation of Pryor is way below that figure. A big part of sports analytics, especially in a league like the NFL with a hard salary cap, is putting a monetary value on a player and making sure he doesn’t take up more cap space than he’s worth, and so while the Browns may like Pryor, they apparently don’t like him enough to pay him the kind of money he thinks some other team will pay him.
From all indications, Browns head coach Hue Jackson is a fan of Pryor’s. Jackson was the Raiders’ head coach when they drafted Pryor (as a quarterback) in 2011, and Jackson was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator when they gave Pryor a shot at earning a roster spot in the 2015 offseason. But Jackson doesn’t call the shots on player contracts.
So if the Browns’ analytics suggest that Pryor is unlikely to play well enough to justify an eight-figure salary, Pryor will see if he can get an eight-figure salary elsewhere. Perhaps as soon as tomorrow.