The Cleveland Browns acquired safety Calvin Pryor on Thursday. Can the former first-round pick help solidify the safety position?
In a not so stunning move, the Cleveland Browns traded linebacker Demario Davis to the New York Jets earlier today for safety Calvin Pryor, a player who was most likely going to be released by the Jets anyway. The trade allows the Browns to shed some salary cap space while taking Pryor’s guaranteed contract of the Jets’ books.
Davis was signed as a free agent by the Browns from the Jets during the 2016 offseason. Per Over the Cap, Davis’ cap hit for 2017 is $4.8 million. By trading Davis, the Browns will eat $1 million in dead money from the signing bonus while sending $3.8 million in salary to the Jets.
Conversely, Pryor has only $1.6 million left on his contract, but it is all guaranteed as Pryor is in the final year of his rookie contact.
For those keeping score at home, the Browns just wrote $2.2 million off their salary cap with the trade. In addition, they acquired a former first-round pick for a player the Jets let walk after last season. Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap describes the deal this way:
"From a monetary standpoint on it’s face it is an odd trade. Davis comes over to the Jets with a $3.8 million salary for the year while Pryor leaves with just a $1.6 million salary. For all of Pryor’s faults and his lack of a role for 2017 it is hard to see the Jets having to essentially pay $2.2 million to get rid of him."
Chalk another good business move up to the Browns savvy front office. They addressed a position of need at safety while lowering their salary cap hit. Plus, if Pryor leaves after the 2017 season, the Browns could be in line for a compensation pick.
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It is clear this was a good business move. But was this a good football move?
The Browns desperately need secondary help. Adding a former first-round pick into the mix certainly helps. But when it comes to Pryor, the question is how does it help?
Last season Pryor played both free safety and strong safety for the Jets. Early in the season he played a center field style free safety. As the season wore on, he played more of an in-the-box strong safety. At times he did not even get significant playing time.
Browns fans thinking this is the solution to free safety position might want to pump the breaks. Pryor does what defensive coordinator Gregg Williams preaches against, which is that he lets the ball get over his head. On the flip side, as a free safety he was the captain of the Jets secondary and was responsible for getting everyone lined up and making adjustments.
If the Browns utilize him in this capacity, Pryor could be productive. He could be the veteran presence in the secondary that lines everyone up, gets everyone on the same page and executes the schemes. However, he still needs to develop the center fielder mentality necessary for the position.
He is not a perfect product, but how many players traded in June are perfect products?
Whether this is a good football move for the Browns will be determined by what role Pryor eventually lands on the defense. As of right now, the most logical fit is free safety, but fans should accept that he is still a project at the position.
For now, let’s give this one a grade of “To Be Determined.”