Terrelle Pryor says he loves being with the Browns, and he wants to stay in Cleveland. That should help the Browns work out a long-term deal with Pryor, Cleveland’s top receiver last season.
"I know this is an important month,'' Pryor said via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. "But I do love being with the Browns and like I said before, this thing isn't about joining a different team because a different team's good.”
Hue Jackson has earned Pryor’s loyalty, and Jackson is a primary reason Pryor wants to remain with the Browns.
Jackson and Pryor’s relationship was cemented in 2011, when Jackson was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Jackson took a chance on Pryor in the third round of the supplemental draft. Now, Pryor wants to be a part of what Jackson is building in Cleveland.
He’s not the only one. Pryor’s teammate, left tackle Joe Thomas, wants to remain with the Browns and help Jackson rebuild.
"I'm a Clevelander," Thomas said, via ESPN’s Elizabeth Merrill. "I've spent the majority of my adult life here. Every day when I come to work, it's 'Let's turn this team into a consistent winner.'“
The Browns signed linebacker Jamie Collins, a midseason acquisition via a trade with the New England Patriots, to a four-year, $50 million contract extension in January. Now the team’s top focus is locking up Pryor.
Cleveland hopes to come to a long-term agreement with Pryor and avoid using the franchise tag.
Pryor, who converted to wide receiver after spending his college career playing quarterback at Ohio State, does carry some risk for the Browns. He’s coming off a productive season, with 1,007 receiving yards and four touchdowns. But Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus identifies Pryor as a free agent who has the ability to demand top dollar despite uncertainty about how he will perform going forward.
Renner notes that nearly half of Pryor’s receiving yards came in just four starts. Cleveland didn’t have much continuity at the quarterback position last season, which could be a contributing factor.
But because of this year’s crop of free agent wide receivers and Pryor’s talent and production in 2016, he’ll have options in free agency. If the Browns were to apply the franchise tag to hold on to Pryor, it would likely cost Cleveland around $15.8 million, according to Joel Corry of CBS.
The Browns paid Pryor $1.671 million in 2016, and he’s likely to command around $8.9 million per year on a new deal, according to Spotrac’s projections.
Pryor’s agents are expected to have “strong discussions” with the Browns about his future. Pryor hopes that future will be in Cleveland.