Cleveland Browns: Terrelle Pryor Being Tested by Team
The Cleveland Browns reportedly won’t sign wide receiver Terrelle Pryor before the end of the season. Is the club testing Pryor between now and Jan. 1?
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor is a fascinating subject this holiday season. Pryor made the transition from quarterback to receiver in 2015, and he found a home with the Browns before the start of this season. He has proven himself a useful weapon in an offense that has struggled to produce points throughout the campaign, as he leads the Browns in receptions (63), receiving yards (858) and receiving touchdowns (4).
It was not all that long ago when the Browns signing Pryor to an extension was a no-brainer. Pryor seemingly has the goods to be a No. 1 WR in any offense, and he is Cleveland’s top playmaker. Keeping him for at least the next couple of seasons made all kinds of sense in October and even parts of November.
The Browns apparently don’t agree with such assessments.
Per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, the Browns “are unlikely to reach an agreement with Terrelle Pryor on a contract extension before the end of the season.” This, on its own, isn’t all that big of a story. Pryor can’t sign with another team before the start of the new NFL year, thus the Browns still have several months to come to terms on a contract with the player. The Browns could also choose to keep Pryor via the franchise tag.
With all that said, one cannot help but piece together different portions of the puzzle and realize the Browns are essentially giving Pryor three weeks to earn a spot on the roster and millions of dollars. That’s the right move to make, even though some fans of the Browns wouldn’t agree.
Pryor is a tremendous athlete seemingly built to be a wide receiver, but he is not yet close to being a finished product at the position. His route-running still leaves plenty to be desired. He has a tendency to take his eyes off the football before he reels in catches, a mistake one would see from a rookie. He is currently averaging one touchdown every two months. As one would expect from anybody learning any NFL position on the job, Pryor remains a work in progress.
Pryor is not some fresh-faced 22-year-old rookie finishing his first season in the NFL. The veteran who has spent portions of time with several clubs turns 28 years old next June. Subsequently, Pryor is theoretically in the middle of his physical prime. It isn’t crazy to suggest his ceiling isn’t that much higher than what we’ve seen in 2016.
One must also account for the away-from-play issues hovering over Pryor in the middle of December. For whatever reasons, Pryor apparently has earned a reputation around the NFL for being a bit of a diva. We’ve seen Pryor get into arguments with teammates on the sidelines and during games. It’s no secret Pryor has angered defensive backs for reasons that have nothing to do with his performances on the field.
Those quick to defend Pryor may wish to point out that receivers are known to irritate cornerbacks and other opposing players. Top-tier offensive weapons often have big personalities. Odell Beckham Jr., Rob Gronkowski, Dez Bryant and even rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott all come to mind.
Pryor doesn’t yet deserve to be grouped in with those dynamic game-changers. He hasn’t earned it. Heading into Week 15 of the 2016 season, Pryor is basically a big fish in a small pond, a pond also known as a 0-13 team that may finish the campaign winless. Like the rest of his teammates, Pryor has done little other than lose football games this fall.
The Browns have a plethora of big decisions to contemplate once January arrives. For starters, owner Jimmy Haslam needs to be absolutely sure he is all-in on a rebuild that produced one of the worst NFL rosters we’ve seen this past decade. Haslam may also be tempted to move on from head coach Hue Jackson if Jackson’s players are unable to post even a single victory in 16 attempts.
Then, there is the future of linebacker Jamie Collins. Cleveland took a flier on Collins when the club traded a third-round pick to the New England Patriots for his services. Collins has largely impressed, save for when he took a play off during the second quarter of a loss versus the New York Giants. Like Pryor, Collins is able to enter free agency in March unless the Browns sign him to an extension.
The Browns could use the franchise tag to retain Collins, but doing so would leave Pryor’s status up in the air.
It’s important to remember Jackson and his staff have spent considerable amounts of time with Pryor. They know Pryor, unlike beat reporters and fans, and they’ll have to decide if they want Pryor working with the quarterback that the Browns are destined to draft come next spring.
It’s on Pryor to show the Browns he can and will improve both as a WR and as a teammate. If he fails to do so, the Browns may deem guaranteeing him millions of dollars is a risk not worth taking.
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