Pryor Comittments: Why the Raiders should bring Terrelle Pryor Back to Oakland

Aug 26, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (11) works out prior to the game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 26, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (11) works out prior to the game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

A reunion between Terrelle Pryor and the Oakland Raiders would be beneficial for both sides.

You’ve heard this one before: the person that was obsessed with you in high school was a 6, on their very best day. You were no dreamboat yourself, but never mind that — you knew you could do better than a 6. So while you were nice enough to this person, and even flirted with them a bit, ultimately, you never took them or a potential long-term relationship with them seriously. You had your eye on much bigger fish.

Fast-forward five years. You’re minding your business, scrolling down your Facebook timeline when a photo catches your eye.

DAMN! Who is that??? They kinda look like….nah, no way, couldn’t be. Wait. That IS them!!

Yes. It is them, indeed.

For many in Raider Nation, Terrelle Pryor represents the lasting legacy of late owner Al Davis. The Ohio State quarterback was famously Al’s last draft choice, coming by way of the 2011 Supplemental Draft.

Always a tremendous athlete, Pryor’s shortcomings as a QB were both fundamental and just bad  timing; he simply wasn’t afforded the chance to develop. Had he landed with an organization that had a foundation and place and focus solely on bringing him along at the position, maybe we’re having a different conversation. But in 2011, Oakland was never going to be the right place for him to do so.

Pryor actually got his opportunity at quarterback via a handful of games as the starter in the 2013 season, and while there were definitely some exciting moments, it was clear that he was still very much a project as a signal-caller, and one the Raiders had little time and interest in working on.

Meanwhile, the idea of switching to receiver had always been floated in regards to TP, but his reticence to do was in danger of stalling out his career for good. After being traded to Seattle for a seventh-rounder in 2014 and being released shortly thereafter, Pryor had very brief stays with the Chiefs, the Bengals and the Browns in the following two years — all, presumably, because of his insistence on playing quarterback.

It is, then, nothing short of remarkable that after just one offseason of dedicating himself to the craft of playing receiver, Pryor’s debut at the position with the Cleveland Browns in 2016 included 77 receptions for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns.

Keep in mind that Pryor did this in sixteen games with a season-long quarterback carousel of Josh McCown, Cody Kessler and Robert Griffin III, as really the only legitimate offensive playmaking threat for a unit plagued by injury, suspension and just sheer Cleveland-brand ineptitude . For reference, DeAndre Hopkins, a bonafide Pro Bowler in his fourth season with the Houston Texans, put up 78 receptions for 954 and four touchdowns with a goofy ostrich at quarterback for 95% of his snaps.

As we approach the opening of free agency, Pryor now find himself with an interesting hand to play. The league as a whole has definitely taken notice of his emergence as a receiver, and Pryor stands to cash out in a significant way, with reports coming out late last week that he could command as much as $10-12M per year on the open market. As great Houston poet Mike Jones once opined, “back then, they didn’t want me. Now I’m hot, they all on me.”

He will, of course, face questions concerning whether his year was a statistical anomaly, the simple result of a terrible team being perpetually behind in score and having to air it out to stand a chance. One way he could silence that criticism is by lending his talents to an offense with a core structure already in place — a legitimate, reliable quarterback to get him the ball, and other options within the offense to open up even more opportunities for success.

I wonder where he could find a team like that?

Bringing Pryor back to Oakland simply makes too much sense for both sides — maybe at a little less than the aforementioned price tag — but the signing would be mutually beneficial for both parties.

For Oakland, Pryor would be a legitimate and dangerous third target within the receiving corps. His presence alongside Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree kicks open the door of possibilities for this offense; namely, a fearsome deep threat that all but eliminates an almost-standard double team of Cooper by opposing defenses. It also allows either Crabtree or Cooper to kick inside to the slot and create devastating matchups at virtually every snap.

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For Pryor, coming back to Oakland would mean joining a unit that’s already one of the most feared in the league. It’d mean being surrounded by young core that values and obsesses about football the same way he does. It’d mean perfecting footwork with one of the most precise and creative route runners in football, and learning the finer points of catching the ball from a top-notch possession receiver in his prime.

If we’re keeping it a buck, just by virtue of his athleticism — which in this case, is less about height/weight/speed, and more about the tangible application of those traits to new ideas/concepts — Pryor is already a better option than both Seth Roberts and Andre Holmes, the Raiders’ third and fourth receiving options, respectively. While both of those guys have contributed in positive ways, Pryor would be an immediate upgrade with a much higher ceiling.

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I’m not saying it will happen, or even that it’s likely. But I know Pryor, being the competitor that he is, would relish the chance to cement his legacy as the last draft choice of the godfather of the AFL. This may be something to watch in the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours.