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Could Terrelle Pryor still return to Cleveland?

Cleveland Browns Washington Redskins Terrelle Pryor
Associated Press

While many, including this author, blasted the Cleveland Browns for not agreeing to terms with wide receiver Terrelle Pryor prior to the start of the NFL’s Free Agency period, it appears that the boys in Berea still have a chance of retaining their biggest playmaker from the 2016 season.

After (rightfully) slamming the Browns for playing with fire in letting Pryor get to the open market despite having six figures worth of salary cap space, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora believes the team will match any offers for the former Buckeye and get him back in Cleveland at about $9-10 million per year. In an interview with 92.3 The Fan (as transcribed by the always fantastic Dawgs by Nature), JLC had the following:

You’ve got $100 million in cap space, you’ve developed this kid, you’ve got the one coach who finally convinced him to drop the quarterback dream for the wide receiver reality. He has a 1,000-yard receiving season for you on a team that does nothing offensively and gets a quarterback maimed every week.

You’ve got no weapons on offense, you lost all your free agents a year ago. You’re going to lose him over a couple of million bucks? You drafted five wide receivers last year, but you don’t know if any of them can play. I don’t see how, at the end of the day, they don’t match any offer [for Pryor]. Oh, and he’s been telling Drew Rosenhaus for weeks, ‘I really want to stay in Cleveland. I want to be a part of this thing here, they believe in me.’

I would’ve just transition [tagged] him.

In Cleveland, if you’re going to have to overpay by 33% to get anybody, you might as well do it to keep the guys you have. … I think he ends up going back to Cleveland at $9-10 million per year. Maybe there is some team out there that is driving this thing, but at the end of the day, I don’t think the numbers are going to get so out of whack to where the Browns are like, ‘Oh, we absolutely can’t do that’ on some philosophical level.

Pryor, who led the Browns in receptions, yardage and touchdown catches a season ago, was reportedly asking for $10-12 million per season from his next suitor. While the Browns won just one game in 2016, their offense would take a huge hit if they were to lose the 27-year-old who would be able to provide any young quarterback with a deep option as well as a 6-foot-4-inch red zone threat.

Former Washington wide receiver Pierre Garcon has reportedly inked a deal with the San Francisco 49ers that would pay him $16 million in its first year. A $10 million contract would put him in line with Los Angeles’ Tavon Austin, Jacksonville’s Allen Hurns, and Green Bay’s Randall Cobb. The Browns, meanwhile, sit on a league-leading $108 million in salary cap space, rendering this potential deal as a drop in the proverbial bucket.