The 2017 NFL Free Agency rumors are about to heat up, as we get closer and closer to decision time for teams looking to tag players and figure out which positions they’d prefer to spend on, rather than draft. Wide receiver is one interesting spot, as there are several big names that figure to be available when free agency officially opens on March 9th.
One big wide receiver teams will be eyeing is Cleveland Browns #1 target, Terrelle Pryor. There have been conflicting reports to this point as to Cleveland’s desire to franchise tag last year’s top passing weapon. We’ve yet to lean the Browns’ exact stance, while we do known if it’s up to Pryor, he’d remain in Cleveland.
It’s fair to wonder Cleveland’s stance, as Pryor certainly blew up in his first full season as a top option with a nice 77-1,007-4 line, but was also inconsistent overall. That doesn’t mean Pryor can’t be a true #1 receiver, but some experts do have their doubts. Beyond that, it’s worth wondering how much money the Browns want to invest in Pryor even if they do want to keep him, or if Pryor would end up chasing more cash elsewhere.
If either of those end up being the case, it will be worth wondering where Pryor could wind up in free agency. Here are six spots that could make good sense:
San Francisco 49ers
The Niners make a ton of sense for Pryor, should the Browns let him walk. For one, Kyle Shanahan is coming in as a rookie head coach and the offensive cupboard is quite bare in the Bay Area. The Niners don’t currently have a plan at quarterback and are just about as bad off at wide receiver, with the declining Torrey Smith as their only legitimate option.
That won’t do at all for Shanahan, who has a complex (but highly effective) system that needs some athletic talent to thrive. He doesn’t have that at the moment and with the Niners trailing only the Browns in terms of free salary cap space, this could be the perfect landing spot. Pryor is rough around the edges and some would argue he’s not a true #1 wide receiver, but just imagine what Shanahan can do with this big, athletic body.
The Eagles could be another good Terrelle Pryor landing spot, as rumors have suggested they are on the hunt for a big-play threat to open up their passing game. Dorial Green-Beckham and Nelson Agholor have been busts and Jordan Matthews is more of a slot option, so the Eagles figure to aim high and get more explosive on the outside.
Pryor is still pretty raw, but has the size and speed to give the Eagles that big-play ability they currently crave. They could be more interested in chasing more experienced speed guys like DeSean Jackson and/or Kenny Stills, but Pryor’s superior size, upside and equally impressive speed could make him a more tantalizing addition – at the right price.
Washington is another team that could be on the lookout for a wide receiver addition. DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon aren’t likely to return, which could quickly put a lot of pressure on young receivers like Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson. Instead of banking on both of those guys thriving in expanded roles (Crowder is best suited working out of the slot), the Redskins could aim high on the outside and bring in Pryor.
Unlike Garcon or Jackson, Pryor could give Washington speed and size on the outside, something that would work swimmingly in their deep shot offense, while also giving them another red-zone option to pair with star tight end, Jordan Reed. The question here is money, but considering Daniel Snyders hasn’t been afraid to spend in the past and the Redskins currently rank 6th in available cash, a Terrelle Pryor Redskins union isn’t crazy.
Buffalo could be another interesting spot, as Robert Woods isn’t explosive and Marquise Goodwin is probably leaving as a free agent. Percy Harvin was a bust in his comeback, as well, while as good as Sammy Watkins is, he seems to always be hurt. Ideally Buffalo can trust in Watkins being their top guy going forward, but even if he’s healthy, the Bills could still use another reliable target that can take the rock to the house or given them an asset near the red-zone.
A lot of what the Bills do will revolve around their decision on Tyrod Taylor, but no matter what they do at quarterback, improving their shaky passing game across the board has to be a goal. Cash would be the main hiccup here, as Buffalo has the 25th most amount of salary cap room to play with. Shedding Taylor’s salary could help fix that, of course.
The Bears could be a fine spot for Pryor, as well, regardless of what they decide to do at quarterback. Getting rid of Jay Cutler sounds like a logical move, while star #1 receiver Alshon Jeffery’s expiring deal is another thing the Bears need to decide on. One idea could be keeping Cutler and just going cheaper at receiver, should bringing in Pryor cost less than holding onto Jeffery.
Jeffery is without a doubt the more reliable option in terms of sheer talent, but Jeffery has also battled injuries and even a suspension. Pryor still has upside to tap into and if he can come at a discount, the rebuilding Bears could take a stab at home. Chicago certainly has wiggle room, standing in as the 9th most flexible team in terms of salary cap space.
Los Angeles Rams
One other realistic landing spot for Terrelle Pryor could be the Rams, who are in the middle of the pack (15th) in salary cap relief. Kenny Britt is coming off the books as a free agent this offseason and that displays a clear need at wide receiver. The Rams have needed improvement in their passing game for years, so this is a perfect opportunity for them to aim high and get the developing Jared Goff some serious talent to work with.
The Rams should really be aiming even higher for guys like D-Jax and/or Alshon Jeffery, but Pryor could come as a lower price and may be just as good in terms of getting Goff a size/speed freak to work with. Bringing back Britt isn’t the worst idea in the world, but if the price is even remotely close, Pryor is the better long-term play.
Overall, it’s easy to point out that Pryor played for a bad Browns team and could easily be more of a stat-stuffer than an actual solution. He does have terrific size and speed, however, and his versatility can make him a dangerous gadget weapon. He’s still raw and needs to show marked improvement across the board, though, so it’s fair t wonder if teams outside of Cleveland will view him worth the risk financially.