Terrelle Pryor could become the latest litmus test of the new-look Browns

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The analytics suggest that receiver Terrelle Pryor wants more than the Browns want to pay him. And how the Browns handle this one will become the latest litmus test of the team’s new approach to building and maintaining a football team.

Last year, they let center Alex Mack and tackle Mitchell Schwartz go via free agency. Then, as part of the effort to prop up their new procedures by keeping all 14 draft picks, they released receiver Taylor Gabriel, who became a great player for the Falcons’ NFC championship team.

This year, Pryor is the biggest name (and the best story) on a team desperate for stars. But the numbers say what they say, and the Browns are willing to disregard the name on the jersey and the man in the helmet in order to honor their new procedures.

It’s a calculated risk, to be sure. As one source with knowledge of the dynamics explained it to PFT, teammates like and respect Pryor. He’s particularly respected by players who played for the Browns when Pryor arrived and tried to convert to receiver but failed to make the team. And he’s passionate about playing for the Browns; how many guys in the locker room really care as much as he seems to?

The question is whether Pryor is a true No. 1 receiver, and whether he ever will be. Corey Coleman, a first-round pick in 2016, could become the top player on the depth chart, with or without Pryor there. Until Coleman develops, they likely need someone more accomplished than either of their best two options. (Josh Gordon would be nice, if he ever gets reinstatement.)

With so much cap space, it may seem trivial for the Browns to quibble about a couple million here and a couple million there, especially for a player that is so popular with the fans. But if they’re going to let this new approach take root, they need to honor it, without exception.

The other concern, frankly, is the manner in which Pryor will react to finally getting a massive contract, six years after entering the NFL. What happens when Pryor gets paid?

To the extent that’s a reason for the Browns to not pay Pryor $12 million per year, isn’t it also a reason to not pay him, say, $8 million a year? As one source explained the dynamics, it’s financial security that causes a player to change; the degree of the security doesn’t really matter.

So what will Pryor do once he gets paid a lot of money? And how will he continue to develop as a receiver? Those are questions that need to be answered as Pryor continues his career not as a guy who throw passes but as a guy who catches them. Whether they’re answered in Cleveland or elsewhere remains to be seen.

And if Pryor gets paid, handles it well, and performs well with a new team, the Browns will be hearing about their latest decision to let one of the few good ones get away.

16 responses to “Terrelle Pryor could become the latest litmus test of the new-look Browns

  1. This is a fair assessment; I suppose they have to stick to their system. Like most observers, however, I can’t help but feel like this new administration has so far only been successful in letting excellent players go. Forest for the trees people.

    I feel for the Browns fans. I liked the Lombardi/Chud combo a few years back, not sure why their owner cleaned house without letting them build.

  2. Sorry, but the nerds would be right on this one. If you watched any of their games, Pryor had the production he did because Jackson was enamored with him and called his number early in games. Rarely did I see him make any plays of consequence past early off the original game plan once the other team had adjusted to them. He doesn’t particuarly run great routes, which is why he’d get shut down after an early big play or 2 against teams after they’d settled down. You love the physical mismatch, but you don’t pay in excess for it either because that gets figured on tape by opposing defenses over time. If anything it highlights how well Jackson does scheming early in games and in coaching players to develop as he did similar with guys like Marcell Reese, Jacoby Ford, and Denarius Moore in Oakland who all went on to so so production away from him. He just needs to do better at in game adjustments to take that next step as a coach.

  3. The Browns can’t afford to let ANOTHER decent player get away. When you’re almost 100 million under the league cap, what’s a couple million? I guess this is what happens when your owner has to ante up BIG TIME to stay out of jail.

  4. “With so much cap space, it may seem trivial for the Browns to quibble about a couple million here and a couple million there, ”

    They have another concern. Hitting the 89% cash spend rule has to be looked into as well. With more & more “analytics” going into payrate & the thought of keeping rookies over vets, won’t their theory have the NFLPA be calling for their head in a few years?
    This isn’t baseball with no cap & inversely no floor so they have to spend money on someone, don’t they?

  5. Since when is 35 catches for 579 yards a great player? Those were Gabriel’s numbers with Julio Jones across from him and that’s all he could do? As a Browns fan I had no problem with them letting Taylor walk. And Pryor isn’t worth the $13-15 million per year I heard he’s asking. I don’t care how much cap space you have, signing bad contracts is just bad business.

  6. realfootballfan,

    Your assessment on Pryor is a poor assessment. The Browns went to Pryor early and often because he was their best receiving option by far. Even then their QB play outside of a few good games from Kessler was poor. 3 QBs, Kessler, McCown, and Griffin attempted 140 or more passes last year for the Browns.

    After Pryor the Brown’s next best receivers were Barnidge TE, and Duke Johnson Jr. running back. When 2 of your too 3 receivers are a tight end AND running back then more than likely your receiving talent sucks and/or your QB sucked.

    Pryor has the physical attributes 4.4 40 and 6’4 240lbs…to be a legit number 1 and in his 1st full season as a receiver showed more than enough that he can be a 1.

  7. He had 77 catches on 140 targets for 1007 yards. He’s a number 2 WR. There were 19 WRs and two TEs that amassed more yardage last season. Don’t forget, that Coleman was out for six weeks. In that time he Pryor was the focus of the offense and he barely got over 1000 yards. He also caught just over 50% of his targets. In fact the highest stat he had last year was in targets, he came in at 12th.
    Just because you have money doesn’t mean that you have to pay an average#2 WR a top five WR paycheck.

  8. Pryor is still learning the position and didn’t really have anyone to take the pressure off him. The QB’s were often running for their lives so getting the ball to him wasn’t as easy as it could have been. He may not be a #1, but he’s the best the Browns have right now, and should get better. If Coleman steps up, there’s nothing wrong with having two guys who can go after the ball.
    A guy can get complacent when he gets paid, but Pryor loves the Browns and Cleveland, he’s respected in the locker room, and I think he wants to prove people wrong. So that may not be an issue.
    Analytics can only take you so far. The locker room is important, too. Joe Thomas has already noted that they’re letting too many young guys go, so you have to listen to that. But please, STOP saying they “let” Mack go. He wasn’t going to stay for any money. That wasn’t their choice.

  9. 6thsense10 ,

    If you say so. He gets kudos for doing what he did with terrible QB play, but I know that his stats after the first half were not that good, and I also know that he doesn’t run great routes. He’s definitely a hws mismatch, but we already knew that. People have been saying that since he got drafted, which was why everyone urged him to try the WR or TE thing sooner when it was apparent he was too far behind on his fundamentals to be fixed as a QB long term.

  10. Pryor made a little over a million last year and got a lot of stats during garbage time (stats none the less) when he wasn’t challenged as much and wants legitimate #1 money for a guy who’s still learning the position. Honestly, I don’t blame him for trying to get paid but you have to know your worth. I doubt any team will meet his demands of being a top 15 paid WR!

    189 – YAC = 429th
    4 – REC TD =47th
    62 -YPG = 28th
    13 – YPC = 50th
    1007 yards – 22nd
    100 yd games – 3

  11. Stop hating on Pryor! Anyone else have1000 yards receiving his first year is celebrated. Add in the browns qb carousel and no other receiving threats. He’s a buckeye and loves the team. Give him five year 50 mil with some guarantees. Trade your second pick in first round for pats garapolo and quit blowing it. No matter what you do it can’t be as bad as giving away stud Julio for draft picks. Good luck Browns. From lifetime steelers fan.

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