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Is Terrelle Pryor worth $10-12 million per year?

Terrelle Pryor Cleveland Browns
Associated Press

After the Cleveland Browns decided to not place the franchise tag on wide receiver Terrelle Pryor ahead of last Wednesday’s deadline, the former Buckeye is set to become an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday when teams are permitted to begin negotiating with free agents and can begin signing them on Thursday at 4 p.m. ET. Unless the Browns and Pryor can somehow come to an agreement on a deal for him to re-sign on Monday, the team’s leading receiver from a season ago will be free to sign with any team.

The question that looms is in regard to Pryor’s true worth. How much should the Browns offer their star wide receiver? While the specific amount can be argued, Yahoo!’s Charles Robinson believes the wide out will get anywhere between $10-12 million per season for his next contract this offseason.

In his first full season as a wide receiver, the 27-year-old led the Browns in receptions (77), yards (1,007) and receiving touchdowns (four) while having five (!) different quarterbacks throughout the year. He is the first Browns wide receiver to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark since Josh Gordon did so in 2013 (tight end Gary Barnidge had 1,043 receiving yards in 2015). If he continues to develop, Pryor can be that downfield target any quarterback could love, especially when his team is in the red zone. His 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame makes him a weapon on any part of the field. Add in his speed and he could potentially be a star wide receiver for years to come.

Along with being the team’s best receiver in 2016, the star also lined up at quarterback and running back for the Browns as well, where he made plays with both his arm and his feet while completing 5-of-9 passes for 41 yards and running for 21 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. Whether he’s lined up in the backfield as a “wildcat” quarterback or out wide, he has made plays all over the field when he has the ball in his hands and was one of the only players on offense that Jackson could legitimately count on week in and week out, especially as they look to usher in a new, younger QB.

With just one full season under his belt at wide receiver, can he duplicate his impressive 2016 season season again, let alone for multiple years in a row? If you are to give him that amount of money, he will be among the highest-paid wide receivers in the league. Therefore, he must perform like one.

Then again, the Browns, who have league-leading $108 million in cap space this off-season have the money to pay Pryor whatever he wants in order to keep him around. But while they may have a bunch of cap room, they can’t just throw money at players just to do so, they must use their money wisely as well.1

So, is Pryor worth $10-12 million? For a team with the cap space and a fan base that has already grown to love Pryor, losing him would be less than ideal. The Browns already seem to have a tough time keeping the younger generation of the Dawg Pound, losing a potential star like TP would all but make those, along with some older fans as well, lose any hope and fanhood that they may have had left following a 1-15 season. Keep in mind, Pryor’s agent just landed Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown a five-year, $72 million contract to remain with the black and yellow for what will most likely be the rest of his career. While Pryor has made it known that he wants to remain a Brown and be coached by head coach Hue Jackson, if another team, a good team at that, offers him a very good contract with plenty of guaranteed money, it will be hard to pass up no matter how much he loves Cleveland.

In October, the Browns made it known that he was the only player on the team who was “untouchable”. So that begs the question, how much is the team willing to pay to keep their best wide receiver around? With the most cap space in the league, there’s no excuse not to keep their star wide out in brown and orange for the foreseeable future.

Here are the wide receivers who make more than $10 million per season:

  1. Antonio Brown, Steelers: $17 million
  2. AJ Green, Bengals: $15 million
  3. Alshon Jeffery (recently released by Bears): $14.6 million
  4. Julio Jones, Falcons: $14.25 million
  5. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos: $14 million
  6. Dez Bryant, Cowboys: $14 million
  7. TY Hilton, Colts: $13 million
  8. Doug Baldwin, Seahawks: $11.5 million
  9. Keenan Allen, Chargers: $11.25 million
  10. Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers: $11.1 million
  11. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals: $11 million
  12. Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos: $11 million
  13. Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs: $11 million
  14. Tavon Austin, Rams: $10.6 million
  15. Allen Hurns, Jaguars: $10 million
  16. Randall Cobb, Packers: $10 million
  1. Editor’s note: Throw that money. []