2017 Free Agency: Terrelle Pryor

Terrelle Pryor is one of the most intriguing free agents this year. Pryor is on pace for 75 receptions, 1,000 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Cleveland’s executive team and potentially the general managers for the rest of the league will have to make a decision on what to pay a player that is in the top 25 in the NFL in targets, receptions, and yards after totaling 2 receptions in his first 4 seasons. Five years after being taken in the supplemental draft by the Raiders and after a switch from QB to WR, Pryor is still a huge question mark as he enters unrestricted free agency in a few months.

The first question to answer is whether or not the Browns should resign or apply the franchise tag to Pryor. The answer is “yes”: Pryor leads the team in receptions, yards, and touchdowns – all but touchdowns by a wide margin. Looking ahead to next year and beyond, the Browns don’t have too many exciting options on offense already on the roster. Crowell, Barnidge, and Hawkins are nice role players, but don’t require targeted game planning from opposing defenses. Coleman has looked good in his rookie year when he has been on the field, but will likely finish with less than 500 yards on 30 or so receptions. Pryor has been the main offensive driver this year and for the next year or two should be at worst the second best threat (behind potentially Coleman) on the team.

Pryor will still only be 28 years old in 2017 and should improve as he gains both experience and a second receiving threat to draw defenses away. The chart below shows how Pryor’s 2016 season compares to several other receivers’ prior two years on a per-game basis.

Player$APYCtch/GTgt/GCtch %Yrds/GYrds/CtchTD/GTgt/TD
T PryorTBD4.798.8654.03%62.6413.090.2931.00
TY Hilton$13M5.008.9355.97%79.0715.810.3724.36
D Baldwin$11.5M5.236.8376.59%66.0712.620.6710.25
E Sanders$11M5.319.3157.04%73.8313.900.3824.55
J Maclin$11M4.967.6464.92%62.4812.600.4019.10
A Hurns$10M3.816.9654.70%58.0015.230.5013.92
R Cobb$10M4.797.3465.26%49.6210.350.3421.30
M Crabtree$8.5M5.409.1059.34%59.6011.040.5716.06
M Jones$8M3.936.5560.00%57.0314.510.2823.75

In terms of catches and targets, Pryor compares very favorably to the rest of the group. Pryor has a low catch percentage, but that should improve as the Browns develop a second and third receiving option. Pryor is barely on pace for a 1,000 yard season and ends up in the middle of the pack in this group for both yards per game and yards per reception. The big negative with this data set is touchdowns. With such a small sample size, I’m inclined to pass on this for now as Pryor has dealt with generally poor play from his quarterbacks and a team that hasn’t had many scoring opportunities.

Overall, based on his production compared to players with APYs ranging from $8M to $13M, I can’t envision a scenario where Pryor signs for less than $8M.

From a season-long prospective, Pryor has looked the part of a Tier 1 or Tier 2 receiver. However, some of the shine is removed when his week to week consistency is considered. At his best, Pryor’s production puts him as a top 10 receiver. In other games, Pryor has no noticeable impact.

In 8 of his 14 games this season, Pryor has totaled less than 50 yards receiving. He has recorded 10 games this season with 5 or fewer receptions. In his best 4 games, Pryor has totaled 25 catches for 473 yards (average of 6/118). In his other 10 games, he has totaled 42 catches for 404 yards (average of 4/40). While his high points indicate a player that no one would question on a $10M+ APY contract, his low points have been pretty low.

Pryor’s agent can point to players such as Marvin Jones and Allen Hurns as players that Pryor is equal or better than and I don’t think the Browns or any other team would disagree (outside of maybe Detroit and Jacksonville). Both players are also inconsistent like Pryor and have shown the upside that Pryor has. Marvin Jones’ $8M APY should be the floor for Pryor’s next contract. It would also place him at or above WRs such as Torrey Smith, Mohamed Sanu, and Golden Tate – players that Pryor has also outperformed.

The Browns’ executive team doesn’t have much of a history to show us how they structure contracts, so I’m going to use the general averages that the $6-$10M APY WR contracts had in last year’s free agency period. Assuming an $8M APY, that contract would look something like this: $8M signing bonus, $14M total guaranteed, three year cash of around $24M.

If Pryor’s agent is able to convince the Browns to go to $10M APY – not unreasonable as that would place him in line with Tavon Austin, Allen Hurns, and Randall Cobb – those figures should be increased by about 25% to $10M signing bonus, $18M total guaranteed, and $30M three year cash. I would not be surprised to see a four or five year contract with clauses that guarantee or escalate the later years based on Pryor’s 2017 and 2018 production. A four year $40M contract would be very similar to the recent contracts of Emmanuel Sanders, Keenan Allen, Allen Hurns, and Jeremy Maclin (all four years and between $40M and $45M).

The franchise tag for receivers for 2017 is around $15.8M. Cleveland currently has around $63M in cap space for next year with only a handful of expiring contracts that should be brought back next year. I’m not in favor of a $15.8M APY multi-year contract, the franchise tag is very palatable given the Browns’ cap situation. However, that would also make Pryor the highest paid WR by APY. The only way I would use the franchise tag if I were Cleveland would be if a long-term extension was close and I wanted to maintain exclusive negotiating rights. I wouldn’t use the tag if they’re in a similar situation to Carolina and Josh Norman last year.

*Updated 12/20/2016: the earlier version of this article listed the WR franchise tag for 2017 as $14M. The correct figure is $15.8M.

ContractSigning BonusYr 1 SalaryYr 2 SalaryYr 3 SalaryYr 4 SalaryTOTAL (Guaranteed)
$8M APY$8M$3M$6M ($3M)$7M$8M$32M ($14M)
$10M APY$10M$4M$7M ($4M)$9M$10M$40M ($18M)
  • NW86

    Agree with most of the article except the last paragraph. The WR franchise tag won’t be $14M. Last year it was $14.7M, and Joel Corry from CBS Sports recently projected it to be around $15.8M in 2017. At that price the franchise tag should not be an option for Pryor – there are simply too many questions to make him the highest paid player in the league. If I were the Browns I would go as high as the $10M contract you outlined above, otherwise let him hit the market and see if he can do better. A franchise tag would make the starting asking price for a longer term deal way to high.

    • Charles Crawford

      You’re correct. I was looking at some 2016 estimates, not 2017 estimates. The post has been updated.

  • Werner

    He should be a strong candidate for the Patriots, They can trade away Garropolo and Brisett and Hogan for goods picks to invest into OL and 4-3DL, finally cut Amendola and have him as WR and QB3 behind Brady and Edelmann.

    • Charles Crawford

      One thing that could be a problem with the Patriots is that a $10M APY would make Pryor the 3rd highest on the team behind Brady and Solder. I can’t see the Patriots doing that for a player with one good year in the league.

      • Werner

        He gets 6M as #1 WR and 2M as #3 QB. That should be in line with my above roster moves…

        • Charles Crawford

          I have a few concerns with those proposals:

          1. Edelman has played 16 games once in his career. Pryor has proved by this point that he’s not a quarterback. Both are good emergency quarterbacks, but that’s it. They would likely be reduced to some form of wildcat offense if these two were their only choices.

          If the Patriots trade away both Garropolo and Brissett, they would head into the season with two emergency QB options behind Brady. I can’t see the Patriots doing that. I do think they will trade Garropolo for a high pick and keep Brissett around for at least a few years.

          2. Why trade Hogan? He’s having a career year and seems to be a very good fit in the offense.

          3. If the Patriots cut Amendola, they would enter next year with Edelman, Gronkowski, Hogan, Mitchell, Lewis, White, and possibly Bennett. That’s a set of players that should be augmented by a draft pick or two, not a high-priced free agent.

          • Werner

            Charles,first. thanks for lively discussion.
            My assumptions are based on a SB Win (3rd times a charm) vs NYG and majority of relevant FA willing to leave with a Ring for higher money elsewhere.
            – Relevant Draft Picks for 17 are offered for Garrapollo and Brisett
            – Hogan leaves for good pick as a value added reselling item if Benett extends
            – Amendola is redundant with Millen being on an equal level, there is simply not enough P5 Salary left to cut to keep him
            – BB can make a good Casell copy out of both Edelmann and Pryor with a little more focus on QB Play in practice, that’s all it takes
            – Some Salary Cap space is needed to hold on to Hightower as anchor of 4-3 and to practically rebuild completely around him (expect Long, Sheard, Mingo, Branch, Ninkovich to be gone for FA or Retirement), also Vollmer, Floyd, Blount.
            – And BB takes on next Paradigm, i.e. versatility on QB/WR hybrid position play with lower cost on both positions

          • Charles Crawford

            I still don’t think Brissett is going anywhere. Patriots have him on his rookie contract for 3 more years. While I think it’s an interesting exercise to consider what Belichick would do with extra roster spaces, I think it’s unlikely that he gives QB practice reps to WRs in order to prep them for emergency QB duty. Why take what is currently a good backup QB situation and turn it into a potential issue if Brady gets hurt?

            Patriots have $60M+ cap room next year and only need to plan for new deals for Bennett, Hightower, Butler, and possibly Logan Ryan (I thought they would resign Vollmer and Sheard until the recent Cannon deal and Sheard’s demotion). In that scenario, there’s no need to cut/trade players for cap space.

            Assuming they will want to spend in free agency to improve both sides of the line, there aren’t many top tier options outside of Jason Pierre-Paul.

            Their offensive line should consist of Solder, Cannon, Thuney, Mason, Jackson, and likely a draft pick or two. That isn’t a top-5 unit, but it’s good enough to get by.

            Their defensive front needs help outside of Malcom Brown, but any free agent additions should be at most $4M APY, which the Patriots can afford without trading away usable pieces for draft picks. I agree that Garropolo, Brissett, and Hogan are good values and would net decent picks in return, but there’s also significant value in having all three of those for a combined $4.8M cap space next year.

  • Kovács Levente

    I thing Giants going to negotiate with him. With cutting Cruz they can save 7,5M. Offering 8M is a real option and upgrade for the Big Blue. Playing with OBJ is (could) decrasing the salary demand. Pryor is 193cm (sorry I am from Europe) while the current receiever squad is 178, 180, 183 so the playbook could be better plus I can imagine some trick play too (Pryor passing to OBJ)
    I cant wait a season with OBJ, Pryor and 2nd year Shepard.

  • S Dog

    There is no way that BB doesn’t keep one of the two current back up QBs on the roster. He’s always had a solid backup QB and he isn’t changing his system now. Hogan isn’t going anywhere either. I think he was brought in for competition this year and he has made Amendola expendable.