New York Giants: Should Terrelle Pryor Be a Free Agency Target?

Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (11) during the second quarter against the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Jets won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants could use an upgrade at the wide receiver position, but Terrelle Pryor may not be the best fit for the club this year.

Terrelle Pryor could be the most interesting wide receiver to enter free agency later this month. The Cleveland Browns elected to not use the franchise tag on the former quarterback, and thus Pryor has the option of testing the market without any restrictions.

Terry Pluto of the The Plain Dealer recently wrote he is “not feeling very confident about Pryor’s return to the Browns,” even though the player has stated he has a desire to remain with the franchise that helped him turn his NFL career around after he flopped as a quarterback.

Pryor has millions—literally millions—of reasons to give the Browns the best chances to retain his services heading into the spring. Cleveland has the cap room to outbid any other franchise, and Pryor, who turns 28 years old in June, has to realize the contract he will sign in 2017 will likely be the biggest he’ll ever see as a player. On paper, the New York Giants shouldn’t expect to even have a chance of signing Pryor.

Money isn’t everything, however, and Pryor’s representatives, the Rosenhaus brothers, may realize getting a large amount of guaranteed money in 2017 could cost all involved down the road. The Browns are going to be a bad football team this coming fall. There’s no avoiding it. Cleveland still doesn’t have a franchise quarterback, and that is only one problem plaguing the club during the current offseason.

Pryor’s numbers in 2016 are outstanding on their own. He caught 77 passes, finishing the campaign with 1,007 receiving yards and five touchdowns (four receiving, one rushing). Those stats become even more impressive when you remember he spent the entire season playing alongside quarterbacks who would be backups on decent, let alone good, NFL rosters—if they’d be in the league at all. Pryor was a true revelation last season, and he deserves to be paid for his efforts.

Say, for the sake of argument, Pryor is seeking more than a couple of major paydays. The Giants, theoretically, are a perfect fit for him. Big Blue went 11-5, they swept division rivals and NFC East champions, the Dallas Cowboys, last regular season and the club could use a 6-4 target such as Pryor at the position.

Pryor wouldn’t be tasked with being the top player on the offense of the Giants. Odell Beckham Jr. owns that role for the foreseeable future, and Sterling Shepard found the end zone eight times during his rookie year. Pryor would only benefit working within the New York offense and with Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl champion and two-time Super Bowl MVP who is looking to add one last title to his resume before the end of the decade.

It should be noted, Pryor is not yet a finished product regardless of his age. He was guilty of numerous “rookie mistakes,” most notably running before completing catches and also losing yards while trying to turn ordinary plays into home runs, while learning the position on the job last season. He also earned himself a reputation for being chatty with opponents during games.

As Dan Duggan of NJ.com wrote, New York cornerback Janoris Jenkins had some rather unkind words for Pryor after the Giants beat the Browns last November. You probably saw footage of Cincinnati Bengals defensive back Adam “Pacman” Jones repeatedly referring to Pryor as “garbage” after a game last December.

Money is also a big concern for the Giants. According to Spotrac, the Giants have less than $16 million in available cap space, but that value remains somewhat of a moving target. As Kevin Hickey of Giants Wire/USA Today explained, the Giants still have multiple opportunities to free up money in order to make a big splash before the draft.

A veteran such as Brandon Marshall, who is parting ways with the New York Jets, would be a cheaper option than Pryor. Those running the Giants could also choose to pursue a target for Manning at some point during the draft. Such a player would be younger and less expensive than Pryor, and choosing a to-be rookie over the veteran would allow the club to focus on filling other noticeable holes on the roster.

Any and all speculation about Pryor’s future will, of course, be for naught if the Browns make him a financial offer he can’t refuse. Nobody could blame him for wanting to get paid while he’s healthy and in his physical prime. If, however, Pryor has more than just dollar signs in his eyes, he and the Giants could form the beginning of a beautiful friendship, a relationship that goes beyond the 2017 campaign.

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