How to quantify Terrelle Pryor’s value to the Cleveland Browns?

Nov 6, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (11) during the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Cowboys won 35-10. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 6, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (11) during the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Cowboys won 35-10. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cleveland Browns are facing a big decision in the off-season when it comes to determining just how valuable Terrelle Pryor is to the team.

Among the many decisions the Cleveland Browns face in the coming off-season is the annual debate over what to do with the team’s impending free agents.

This year, perhaps more so than any other in recent years, will be one that is closely watched as the Browns must decide what to do with linebacker Jamie Collins and wide receiver Terrelle Pryor.

Collins is as close to a no-brainer as you can find on the roster. A Pro Bowl linebacker who has been the best player on the defense since joining the team in an October trade, Collins should be the No. 1 focus of Sashi Brown’s attention.

While Collins is easy, the situation with Pryor is a bit more complex.

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Pryor deserves as much credit as anyone can bestow on him for his work ethic in transforming himself from an out-of-the-NFL quarterback into a starting wide receiver. With two games remaining in the 2016 season, Pryor leads the Browns in receptions (67), yards (877) and touchdown receptions (4).

And he has done that while playing with a group of quarterbacks that would have trouble getting on the field with just about any other NFL team.

That has led some Browns fans – we’ll call them “OSU fan boys” – to decide that the Browns should retain Pryor “at any cost.”

But is that really a good idea for the Browns and is Pryor worth a top contract?

Those are the very same salient points that former Cleveland wide receiver Brian Hartline expressed to a Columbus radio station according to The Beacon Journal when asked about Pryor.

"“If I’m building a team, what is [Pryor]? Is he my No. 1? God, I hope not because let’s put it this way: For me, I want a guy day in and day out I know what I’m getting. You don’t know what you’re going to get. You don’t know who’s going to show up. You don’t know if he’s going to get in trouble. You don’t know if he’s going to smart off. I need stability. That’s so more important to me. I need a guy that runs routes. I need stability. I need constant production. Is he a No. 2? OK, yeah. I mean maybe. He kind of disappeared the last couple weeks."

"“So I’m very apprehensive as a Cleveland Browns guy to give out a contract. Listen, you had one year. You’re a flash in the pan. You’re trying to tell me with a guy that had suspect personality characteristics, I’m going to go ahead and hand you a bunch of money but you’re going to work harder? Uh, I think I’m going to bet against that if I’m a betting man.”"

Hartline is sure to get some criticism over his comments, but he hits on some key points.

For all that Pryor has accomplished this season, he is only in his first year as a wide receiver. While that could mean that he will get better the more he plays the position, he is also going to be 28 years old by the time the 2017 NFL season kicks off next September. That is not ancient by any stretch, but players are generally hitting their prime at that age, rather than still learning how to play their position.

And while his numbers are good for the Browns, when compared to the rest of the NFL, Pryor comes in at just 27th in receptions, 23rd in yards and 43rd in touchdowns.

Looking at the current salary list for wide receivers, Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons comes in at No. 1 with a salary of $15.9 million for this season, while T.Y. Hilton of the Indianapolis Colts rounds out the Top 10 with a salary of $11 million. It would be madness for the Browns to consider paying Pryor a salary that puts him in the top 10 among wide receivers.

So if you look at Pryor as a good – but not great – wide receiver, then the Browns should be looking at a salary well outside the Top 10. A deal similar to what Marvin Jones signed with the Detroit Lions last season, which pays him an average of $8 million a year for five years with $20 million in guaranteed money should be the absolute maximum that the Browns should consider. Although it should be more along the lines of a three- to four-year deal with $10 million to $12 million in guaranteed money.

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If Pryor’s agent can get someone to pay him considerably more than that then the Browns need to let him walk. They can’t risk blowing salary cap space on a player who is good but may already be at the peak of his game.

No matter how much it may disappoint a certain segment of the fan base.