On Monday, I’m going to drop my free agency wishlist for the Pittsburgh Steelers aka a list that’s bound to be horribly wrong. I’m going to get a head start on that today with one name: Terrelle Pryor. For Pittsburgh, he makes a lot of sense.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. As David Todd always astutely points out, it’s nearly impossible to guess what player is coming to what team. And the odds of Pryor coming to Pittsburgh, like it would be to link any player, are remote. But man, it looks good on paper.
Mike Tomlin has always been impressed by Pryor. He might have wound up a Steeler had Pryor not explicitly told Tomlin not to draft him in the 2011 supplemental draft. At the time, it was a smart, mature decision. Pryor wanted to leave the area, get away from some people in his life who could hold him back. Now? I don’t know if that’d be the case. He’ll be 29 in the summer, older, more mature, cutting ties with those people he knew back in the day. The distractions that would’ve existed then are mostly gone.
Tomlin has talked him up every chance he’s got, beyond the usual coach-speak he brings at his press conferences.
“I know one thing. I have known that young man since he was in the 11th grade when I got here some 10 years ago,” he said last year. “He’s always been passionate about competition and football specifically. I’ve always viewed him as a football player first and a positional guy second. I’m not surprised that, number one, he’s still a productive football player in the National Football League…”
As Matthew Marczi wrote yesterday, the Browns could look to bring him back. But will Pryor want to return? Or does he want to go somewhere new in his career? To a winner. He’s never been on a winning team before. His rookie year with Oakland was as close as he got, an 8-8 finish, and he went 7-9 with Washington last year.
That time with Washington was…less than ideal. He bet on himself and lost, taking a one-year deal only to be slowed down by injury and personnel decisions. Pryor finished last year with 20 receptions for 240 yards and a lone, sad score. His market value has tanked more than Bitcoin so he should come on the cheap.
It’s why Pittsburgh makes sense. The finances align. You can get him on another one-year deal for I think relatively cheap (or you can make it two to help spread the money out, if need be). There’s a need – Pittsburgh has only three receivers right now. And Pryor could finally return home and come to a winner.
Pittsburgh wanted him last year. But it made sense why that didn’t happen. Now? It’s totally flipped.
Think of Pryor as a suped-up version of Justin Hunter. Just as big. More athletic. Made bigger plays and on a more consistent level. He can be the #4 WR, but in this offense, could still see time, and all it takes is one injury – anywhere – for Pryor to see the field. Or who knows, another Martavis Bryant suspension/social media tantrum. There’s opportunity, is the point.
It might take a little sacrifice from Pryor to come to the Steel City. Take more of a reserved role, perhaps less money. But it’s time to stop chasing money, chasing a promising-looking role (that’s rarely worked out for him anyway). Time to come home. Time to come to Pittsburgh.