Terrelle Pryor Sr. is betting on himself.
The 27-year-old wide receiver, who signed a one-year deal worth up to $8 million with the Redskins Friday, wants 2017 to be his best season yet.
“At the end of the day, it’s an opportunity to play in the NFL,” Pryor said Monday morning. “I don’t take any of those for granted. I can’t really control or have a say or know what’s going on in terms of internally. They’re handling that internally. All I can do is just come in and be ready to be the best teammate I can be and work my butt off and prove I belong.”
There is an excellent case to be made that Pryor has nowhere to go but up. Last season, his first true year as a wide receiver, Pryor caught 77 passes for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns, quickly becoming one of the brightest spots on the Browns’ roster.
If that’s what he did in year one, shouldn’t year two be better? As recently as 2014, when Pryor had a brief stint with the Seattle Seahawks, he wasn’t even considering switching from quarterback to receiver. “I don’t know how to catch,” he said back then.
Pryor got cut by Seattle, then by Kansas City, and then by Cincinnati in 2015, when he finally said that he was open to switching positions. Until then, he’d been an electric, dual-threat quarterback his entire football life.
The Browns still toyed with keeping him there when they claimed Pryor off waivers, but committed to helping him make the switch before the 2016 season. Pryor trains in Charlotte, N.C., where he counts Randy Moss as a workout partner and mentor, and committed himself to learning the basics of route running and ball skills. He found that the steepest learning curve came in learning how to compete against press coverage and engage with cornerbacks at the line of scrimmage.
“I really came along,” Pryor said. “I owe a lot of people thanks and I’m still learning … I met with my trainer, Randy Moss, and guys of that like, and my coaching staff with the Browns. It was an incredible jump from the offseason workouts in April up until June and I just took huge leaps and bounds.”
The Browns tried to sign Pryor to a longer-term deal during the regular season but, when those efforts failed, decided not to use the franchise tag on him. Pryor wanted to test free agency, and didn’t want to lock himself into a multi-year deal he felt he could play his way out of.
When the Browns signed free agent Kenny Britt to a four-year, $32.5 million deal, roughly what they were willing to pay Pryor, the writing was on the wall. Pryor may have felt a tinge of regret. A source told Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot that Pryor, who is very close with Hue Jackson, went back to the Browns to ask for a counter-offer after the Redskins made him their pitch, but what the Browns were willing to offer had decreased by then.
“Overall I just think maybe the guys, our market wasn’t where it was supposed to be or we thought it would be,” Pryor said. “I think at the end of the day that you want to prove yourself. I think some guys don’t want to take deals where they’re outplaying the deal.”
Of course, for Pryor to succeed, it would help for him to have a competent quarterback. By hitching his wagon to a volatile franchise while playing on a one-year deal, Pryor knows he’s making a risky move. He’s not too worried, though he knows the Redskins quarterback situation will impact his future.
“Obviously, I would like to play with Kirk. I’d be an idiot if I didn’t believe that,” Pryor said.
The two have already texted a bit, and Pryor said he’s getting together with Cousins and some other receivers for a throwing session soon.
Pryor said he thinks Cousins is a “great” quarterback. Still, he wasn’t throwing around ultimatums about who he would or wouldn’t play with when he met with the Redskins. From Pryor’s perspective, things can’t get much worse than what he dealt with in Cleveland.
“I don’t want to say it was my first priority because at the end of the day you want to be wanted. You want to be with a team that wants you to be on the team. In Washington, they were aggressive in terms of wanting me to be on the team. I played with six quarterbacks last year. I don’t think it could get that bad,” Pryor said.
Fair point, and reason enough to embrace some risk.
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