The Cleveland Browns don’t appear interested in using the franchise tag on wideout Terrelle Pryor, but letting him leave outright could be a big mistake.
The Cleveland Browns gave former quarterback Terrelle Pryor the opportunity to be a starting wide receiver in 2016. He rewarded the Browns with 77 receptions, 1,007 yards and three touchdowns. For the Browns, who aren’t exactly loaded with offensive talent, it would make sense to see the Pryor experiment through to the end. If he can be a 1,000-yard receiver in his first full year at the position, what might he accomplish in Year 2?
The problem for Cleveland is that if Pryor leaves in free agency this offseason, they’ll be finding out what he can do with another franchise. There are other potential problems with letting Pryor walk, as well. For one, the team will be down a starter and could be forced to utilize another early draft pick on another wideout.
The Browns drafted four wideouts last offseason, but only Corey Coleman saw significant action. According to Pro Football Focus, Ricardo Louis, Rashard Higgins and Jordan Payton combined for only 528 snaps and 25 receptions. While Pryor has only spent one year as a starter, the Browns would be losing a lot of experience if he were to walk. The team already parted ways with veteran wideout Andrew Hawkins (per the team’s website) and could be looking at a receiving corps made up almost entirely of second- or first-year players next season.
For a team that is widely expected to take a serious run at a potential franchise quarterback this offseason, this could spell trouble. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reports that the Browns have no plans of using the franchise tag on Pryor before Wednesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline.
Cleveland’s unwillingness to use the tag isn’t alarming in and of itself. Joel Correy of CBSSports.com predicted during the season that this year’s tag number for receivers would be about $15.8 million. This is simply too much of a raise to give anyone based on one year of good-but-not-great production.
In addition to the financial risk of using the tag, the Browns would essentially give Pryor no reason to further engage in extension talks until next year. Right now, it seems that Pryor does hold interest in signing an extension with the team. Doing so would be in Cleveland’s best interest.