Rumor: Multiple teams interested in Terrelle Pryor
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor is reportedly drawing interest from several NFL teams. Is it time to start worrying?
The “legal tampering” portion of NFL free agency begins on Tuesday at noon, meaning the next 72 hours or so could be tense ones for fans of the Cleveland Browns.
That’s because several teams are reportedly interested in making a play for free agent wide receiver Terrelle Pryor – the only high-profile free agent that the Browns are currently dealing with.
According to Mary Kay Cabot at cleveland.com, the following teams will all be talking with agent Drew Rosenhaus over the next few days:
"Terrelle Pryor is drawing interest from his hometown Steelers, the Giants, 49ers, Titans and Eagles as the free agency two-day negotiating window opens on Tuesday at noon, league sources told cleveland.com. There are likely other teams that will express interest too."
Well isn’t that just special?
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It is certainly not surprising that other teams may be interested in Pryor after seeing him exceed 1,000 receiving yards in 2016 in his first season as a full-time wide receiver while playing with what was arguably the league’s worst quarterback situation.
The wide receiver market is also thin in free agency, as Pro Football Focus points out, with Pryor being the second-best receiver who could be available:
"Terrelle Pryor was grading as a top-10 WR before the Browns’ bye week and Robert Griffin III took over starting duties. Pryor and RG3 never landed on the same page, and the wide receiver’s production and grade took a hit, but the former Ohio State Buckeye still made the transition from failed pro QB to WR extremely well. Whether he stays in Cleveland or signs elsewhere, Pryor has shown to be a dominant force outside, and the sky is the limit for him if he has a stable quarterback situation. With remarkably natural hands, Pryor dropped just six passes (two in a game in which he tore ligaments in his thumb) and averaged 1.9 yards per route run over the first 12 weeks of the season."
The Browns could have avoided all this by simply placing a franchise tag on Pryor last week, but that opportunity has come and gone.
So what to make of the teams that are reportedly interested in Pryor?
The Steelers have the allure of playing with an actual quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger and opposite wide receiver Antonio Brown, but Pittsburgh only has about $21 million in available cap space, according to spotrac.com. It is hard to see Pryor taking what would likely be a below-market contract just to play with the Steelers.
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Pryor going to the Eagles would sting a bit for those Browns fans still smarting from the Browns trading the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to Philadelphia so the Eagles could select quarterback Carson Wentz. But the Eagles are even worse off than the Steelers in terms of salary cap with only a little more than $8 million available, so they seem pretty unlikely.
Staying in the NFC East, the Giants also have an actual NFL quarterback in Eli Manning and offer the big-city lights, but, again, don’t have an abundance of cap space – $14.6 million – to make a big-money offer.
The 49ers, on the other hand, do have a surplus of cap space as their $95 million is second only to the Browns. But the 49ers literally have no quarterbacks signed to the roster for the upcoming season, making them the one team that actually might think that Robert Griffin III is actually a viable option. It is hard to see Pryor wanting to walk into that mess unless the 49ers somehow swing a deal for Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins prior to signing Pryor.
That leaves the Titans, who may actually be a realistic threat to the Browns. Tennessee has a quarterback in Marcus Mariota, cap space with around $64 million, and play in a weak division, which makes the prospect of making the playoffs sometime soon a much easier proposition than what the Browns currently face in the AFC North.
While agents can talk to teams, no deals can officially be announced until free agency starts on Thursday at 4 p.m. It is possible that executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown has an agreement in place with Rosenhaus that the Browns will match or exceed any offer that Pryor receives.
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That is a dangerous game to play, however, as the Browns would have to trust that Rosenhaus was telling them the truth about any offers and would honor any pre-arranged deals.
Pryor isn’t out the door and this all may turn into much ado about nothing, but the next few days could be rough ones for Browns fans.