Whose fault is it Terelle Pryor left?

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns had a magnificent opening to the 2017 NFL free agency period. Kevin Zeitler, J.C Tretter, and Kenny Britt were signed to bolster the offense. The front office also ate up some of the superfluous cap space by obtaining Brock Osweiler so that they could obtain a 2018 second-round pick from the Houston Texans. The team even moved on from the mistake of signing Robert Griffin III.

However, much of the good will seems have been undone on the interwebs when Terrelle Pryor signed a one-year, eight million dollar deal with the Washington Redskins. Earlier reports were that he was asking for $12-13 million from the Browns, and the team refused to budge off of eight per year.

Whose primarily at fault for Pryor no longer being a wide receiver for the Browns? How bad are the optics for both sides?

Craig: I won’t claim to know for sure, but the fear is that this is becoming a trend for the Browns. I know it might be obnoxious to have a guy take your deal and use it to shop around in free agency, but when the rubber meets the road and the Browns’ valuations are proven out, how is it that they continue to lose guys who sign reasonable deals elsewhere? Mitchell Schwartz didn’t break the bank and the Browns reportedly pulled their deal. I would have to assume even if the Browns didn’t pull their deal after signing Kenny Britt, that they changed it in some material way. The bottom line is that the Browns lost Pryor for far too little money.

Doesn’t that show in the end they’re the big losers here? Is it worth something for them to continue to operate in a way that has them losing talent for reasonable NFL dollars? It’s hard for me to give them the benefit of the doubt even a day after making massive moves and extending Joel Bitonio.

Michael Bode: The other side is why would any free agent ever sign a contract before free agency opens if the team is willing to honor those negotiations even after that contract is shopped? I am putting most of the blame on Terrelle Pryor not being with the Browns on Drew Rosenhaus and Pryor (he’s the one who tells his agent what to do).

However, there needs to somehow be a middle ground. While “the best offer” can only be valid beforehand, why can’t the team find a way to still retain their best talent? The optics on this deal stink of a bruised ego from Pryor, but one of the benefits of a player-friendly head coach like Hue Jackson is to smooth things over. So, I’m putting a decent amount of blame on the Browns too.

Pryor might not have wanted to sign a multi-year deal at eight million per year, but why couldn’t the front office have stroked his ego a bit and topped the Redskins offer? Even a one-year deal at nine-to-ten million would have been good. Both sides can claim victory there. It’s not like Pryor went to Washington and signed right away. There was a full day to get this done.

What do you think the team could have or should have done here?

Craig: I’m with you completely. If it were any other team but the Browns – like the Steelers for example – you might just blame the player completely. Part of being an historical disaster coming off of a 1-15 season is being a little bit less precious about your process. I’m of the opinion that in any situation – especially where neither party is trapped by circumstances – that there’s a deal to be had that’s a win-win for both sides. The fact that the Browns failed to strike that up either before or after the open of free agency with Terrelle Pryor or Mitchell Schwartz is scary.

In the end, I really don’t want to get too crazy over Pryor. I do think he’s replaceable. I don’t think he’s worth what Rosenhaus was reportedly trying to get. I don’t think he’s so good that the Browns won’t be able to recover. In a lot of ways, I’m sure the Browns felt they were mostly fine after getting Kenny Britt. There’s something to be said for that, but when you’re the Browns, any hint of the smell of the “same old Browns” should send you running and screaming in the opposite direction.

Michael: No doubt that the more stable organizations would have no questions when things like this happen. Using your example, you don’t hear these negative connotations about the Steelers potentially losing Lawrence Timmons to similar circumstances.

It doesn’t make it any less frustrating as a fan though. Pryor was fun to watch, and he was one of the few positive points of the 2016 season. Reports are coming in now that the deal is even worse for him. A three million dollar signing bonus, three million in base salary, and two million in incentives that are unlikely to be earned. Add in the fact that Hue Jackson was the person who convinced Pryor to convert to a wide receiver and was a huge influence on him becoming a competent one means there had to be a middle ground deal somewhere in there. Ugh.

Still, it is tough for me to label it “same old Browns” given what the team did on Day 1. It is tough for me to label it “same old Browns” given that the team did develop Pryor as a wide receiver. It is tough for me to label it “same old Browns” given that the front office covered their butts by signing Pryor’s replacement in Britt (instead of going with duct tape as they did when they lost Mitchell Schwartz).

What more is there?

Craig: It’s just sad. In the end it just makes me sad. Why do the Browns always have to make me feel sad?

  • This doesn’t even crack the top 100 list of things about the Browns that have made me sad since 1999. Best of luck to TP. Life goes on.

  • RGB


  • JNeids

    While I’m upset he won’t be back, I put most (not all) blame on Pryor and Rosey. For all we know, the Browns did come over top of the Washington offer and Pryor, knowing he was gambling on himself with a one-year deal, wanted to go somewhere with a better QB situation (assuming Cousins stays).

    Remember back when Hartline had some negative things to say about Pryor and we all jumped on him and called him jealous? Maybe we should have listened…

  • Dave Luce

    Here’s how I perceive the course of events: Before FA opens, Browns offer TP multiyear deal in the 8 mil range. He turns it down thinking a big multi-year payday will come to him on the market, it’s left that TP will test the market and if he can land a bigger deal, Browns will have opportunity to match. Then, on day one, TP sees the market isn’t what he hoped, and Browns can’t risk being left out in cold by Drew, so they sign Britt to similar deal they were offering TP. Browns keep door open for TP, but wouldn’t surprise me if after the market didn’t open up for him like he thought, TP wanted to do a one-year deal to set himself up for bigger payday next season. Once that became his goal, I’m sure the offense and QB situation became a much bigger component to his thought process. Hence his desire to take 1/8mill from Wash instead of what’s assumed to be a similar offer from Browns.

    Nobody’s fault. Drew and TP overestimated their value, and Browns couldn’t watch the small amount of decent WR on the market disappear without locking one up. Wish it worked out differently, because TP is EXACTLY the type of player I want on the Browns. Physical talent that creates mismatches and passion to be the best that is unmatched. But — hey, Browns aren’t going to win the Super Bowl next year (SHOCKER!) so maybe they can make a play for him next season.

  • scripty

    Bode – you realize there is the legal tampering period that agents can use to learn their player’s value? Pryor and his agency poorly misjudged the market. They were told it was gone 4pm FRI. They declined and suffer the short-term consequences. Sometimes agents get their players more money and sometimes they blow it. They better hope their client doesn’t blow out something major.

    I would have liked Pryor back at the right price. But Pryor wanted to test the free market and as of today, left about 14 million in guaranteed cash on the table.

    Pryor is also an extremely unlikeable character who was never going to get mad money from this particular front office.

    And, that’s two agents with mud on their face for costing their player’s by refusing the Browns best offer. While the short term negatives are actual, there will be a time when agents will not want to be the next name on that list. That is awful for business.

    Note – Sashi-Rosenhaus round 2 maybe this next year re: Gordon

  • mgbode

    Don’t let Terrelle Pryor fleeing to DC distract you from the fact that I snuck in a line about RG3 being a mistake to conclude the ongoing debate between Craig and myself.

  • mgbode

    Indeed. I do place more blame on Pryor-Rosie for just the reasons you state. I just still wish we could clear that hurdle somehow. Feel like there should have been a way for both sides to save face and I enjoyed watching Pryor play.

  • mgbode

    Hartline wasn’t jealous. Hartline is a Tressel guy and he and Boone and others blame Pryor for his ouster.

  • scripty

    Well, we won’t get the real story on this one for a long while, and I fully expect an article in the next 36 hours about how the CLE front office is “difficult to deal with”. For years agents have been professional negotiators dealing with ex jocks and having their way.

    In the short term, people can say the Browns are “the surgery was a success but the patient died” way of doing business. But that will pass. ESPN just put up a good mini piece on Depodesta. I think it’s time EVERYBODY accepts that an uncompromising emotionless negotations are going to take place. I’d hit the HBT but it seems they did make him a very fair market contract and the player passed it up. I’ll be there to smite them when they err but I can’t get there on this contract negotiation. Easy for fans to want to slightly overpay everybody because the process of replacing talent is intimidating, I get it.

  • mgbode

    Agreed. Still sad about it, but in no way upset at HBT for how it played out.

  • Natedawg86

    I did like his passion but he needs to shut his mouth in the field. Yes I was hoping we re-signed him, but he cost us the Hal game because of childish trash talking and a ball flip at an opponent. All season on shorter routes he went backwards to make the big play. DIdnt work too much. He has spent work to do and maybe he will succeed but man he is a cocky sob

  • Natedawg86

    Gotta set the tone too. If you say one thing then do another your word isn’t worth much. They set the rules and the Pryor camp left 6 mil on table

  • scripty

    If you do what you say you are going to do, it’s a good faith negotiation. If you negotiate in good faith you just live with the outcome. For all we know, both parties may have done this. You can’t be tapdancing or you come off a fool.

  • To me, it feels like they got a little too cute at the salary amount margins for a team that started $100M plus under the cap.

  • nj0

    Whose fault is it that Lake Erie is wet?

  • nj0

    Sounds like a story idea. No weekend for you, mgbode.

  • crobarred

    I’m putting the blame on Rosenhaus and Pryor. Browns offered a multi year deal for 8mil per and they turned it down wanting to test the market. He was the best available receiver on the board and he had to settle for a one year deal for 8mil? None of the other teams aside from Washington wanted him or were willing to top the deal? That tells me that the Browns were spot on about his worth on the open market. Don’t get me wrong, the HBT makes some head scratching calls but when Pryor turned down the offer they gave it to Britt. He is a bit of a downgrade to Pryor but at least it shows that the HBT is trying to do something to improve the team.

  • Natedawg86

    Pryor agent a shark. He knew that

  • jpftribe

    And after the way Pryor comported himself through this offseason and FA period, maybe Hartline has a point.

    Signing a one year deal with Washington? He and Rosenhaus deserve each other.

  • Natedawg86

    He talks to much. Lost us the game I took my first son to his first game. I was rooting for him but part of me can’t forgive what he did at OSU

  • jpftribe

    They didn’t seem to mind overpaying for Cinci’s guard, or eating $16M for a second round pick. There’s a reason they towed the line with Pryor.

  • scripty

    think it was reported once 4pm FRI hit their offer was off the table and it was wild west

  • Hopwin
  • jpftribe
  • Saggy

    they didn’t do anything wrong at OSU. Jim Tressel lied about it – that’s what got him fired. Of course it was a lose/lose situation for him but I blame the NCAA.

  • Saggy

    and that game he cost the Browns will also allow them to draft Myles Garrett. So remind me what he did that was so bad? Think about it: without that, the Browns are trading down from 2.

  • Saggy

    maybe so. but they’ll eventually have to pay the piper and they can’t just go spending money because they have it right now. They’ll need cap space going forward, especially if this team makes a leap to 6-10 or 7-9 and can grab a FA next year. If that happens, we’ll all be angry that they spent the extra $$$ on TP instead of saving it for a playmaking FA Linebacker.

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  • I think you severely underestimate just how much cap room the Browns have.

  • mgbode

    Yeah, noted in article. Crazy how much he left on the table at the end. Bad call on him/agent to try this push.

  • Matt Stevenson

    Pryor wasn’t the Browns “best talent” by any means. He wanted to bet on himself for the one year deal in order to get a bigger payday next year. Good for him and I wish him luck but don’t think this is as significant as most.

  • Richard Whitney

    Yep. He clearly had a reputation with the officials–as did Kellen Winslow Jr. The combination of his behavior and the official attributing motive to him cost us the Ravens game. While that’s one game, wasn’t it the second game of the season? Getting a W on the board could have changed outlook. Of course getting a W there and then kicking that damned FG in Miami could have changed the season.

  • NankirPhelge

    The only thing that bothers me about all this is the fact that the Browns pulled their offer. That strikes me as being petulant. If you make an offer, honor it.

    Otherwise, it is, as they say, what it is. It’s called negotiating, and you win some and lose some. From everything we know, it looks like Pryor may have made a big mistake. But we’ll see.

    At the end of the bottom line, I’m not upset about this.

    EDIT: The end of my first line reminds me of an old joke:

    The lady offered her honor.

    The gentleman honored her offer.

    And all night long, it was on her, off her, on her, off her . . .

  • Hopwin

    Hoslerms be chepz!

  • JM85

    I can’t believe that’s the offer he took. I thought he would have got more than that.

  • This is what I keep coming back to. At some point (we all hope) they will find a QB worth investing in, or a genuine stud WR and not just a potential one. Or a game-changing LB or CB. Hopefully all of those. And that’s when all this unspent money is going to feel real damn nice. TP wasn’t worth handcuffing ourselves down the road.

  • Harv

    I think both of you are making an assumption – which I do not share – that leads you to claim that both sides blew an acceptable middle ground opportunity.

    It’s very possible that Pryor/Rosenaus didn’t just want the most he’d be offered in THIS year’s market (4/$32 with $19 guaranteed?), they want him paid as elite now or the moment he is. Therefore, they weren’t willing to take these more modest amounts over multiple years. If Pryor thinks he is on the verge of elite, and just needs 1 year to have the market confirm that, the question he and Rosenhaus asked themselves was this: where’s the best place to establish you as elite in 1 year? The answer is obvious: with Desean Jackson and Garcon leaving, Pryor is Kirk Cousins’s primary target. Cleveland has no QB. Forget Pryor’s happy-in-CLE talk. For all we know, he meant he appreciated Hue’s patience and support and assumed the Browns would take a huge chance on him because they have so little talent and so much cap to burn. If I’m right then the Browns lost Pryor after a sensible front office cost/benefit analysis. If he becomes elite he’ll go to the highest bidder or be franchised by Washington. I won’t blame the Browns for not feeling forced to share a players delusions of grandeur, whether or not the become reality.

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  • Chris

    Pryor and Schwartz should be very useful precedents when these slew of draft picks from 2016-2018 are nearing free agency. In both cases, the Browns’ reported/rumored offers exceeded the contracts Pryor and Schwartz eventually signed.

    These cases demonstrated that the Browns will offer fair-to-favorable value for a player, but refuse to provide the safety net once the player/agent chooses to gamble. I’m interested to see how this approach plays out in the coming years.

    In my opinion, this precedent is more valuable for the Browns’ future than Terrelle Pryor is.

  • BenRM

    If fault lies, and I believe it does, it’s with Rosenhaus who misread the market. His job is to not misread the market.


    Thank you. I was just about to write: Wait, they blame the player because the coach knew he was ineligible and played him anyway, and covered it up to try to win a chip? That checks out.

  • mgbode

    Plausible and well-argued.

    One issue: Why did Pryor take so much time and attempt to get better offers from multiple teams (including Cleveland) after visiting Washington?

  • Harv

    I think it was less than 24 hours. But whatever it was, if Rosenhaus sold his client on “Cleveland is desperate for you, Cleveland can and must overpay you” Rosenhaus is going to take a last shot to salvage his credibility before defaulting to “we’ll get your elite money next year, being Cousins’ primary target will make you elite.”

    Looked at this way, it’s less Rosenhaus and Pryor misreading the market than misreading Sashi. They were Kruschev losing a game of chicken to the green guy in the Cuban Missile Crisis. (I kid: “I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Sashi, you are no Jack Kennedy”).

  • NankirPhelge

    When Lloyd Bentsen died, his old put-down of Dan Quayle was in the lead paragraph of his obit. It’s pretty sad when your claim to fame in your obit is a snide, humorless insult of another human being.

  • Jaker

    Don’t know, and at this point, I don’t wanna. Time to move onto the draft. Corey Coleman better have a good season.

  • Skulb

    Pryor is looking for a shopping window. One year with Kirk Cousins throwing him the ball might be just what he needs. I mean, who is playing QB for the Browns next year? No one knows. Not a good situation to attract a wide receiver if he has a better option.