The Cleveland Browns are coming off their worst season in franchise history. They truly embodied what it means to be the “Mistake on the Lake,” as Cleveland joined the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only other team to go 0-16, according to USA Today Sports. The Browns have reached a whole new level of futility under Hue Jackson, who has somehow managed to pull out just a single victory in two seasons as head coach of Cleveland. Nonetheless, Cleveland has been able to find decent talent in Jackson’s tenure through the draft, and they have some nice playmakers to utilize next season. The Browns still need a veteran wide receiver presence, though, and Terrelle Pryor could be back with the Browns to fill that void.
Cleveland has drafted a number of young wideouts and tight ends in Jackson’s tenure with the Browns, and they’ve shown flashes at times. The most talented draft pick was Corey Coleman, Cleveland’s 2016 first-round selection, who has displayed potential when healthy. However, Coleman has missed 12 games in his first two years in the NFL (according to Pro Football Reference), and he still needs to develop. The Browns could have something special again with 2016 standout Terrelle Pryor lined up back outside, though. That could free up both Coleman and talented deep threat Josh Gordon.
The recent buzz surrounding Pryor’s return to Cleveland involves a comment on running back Duke Johnson’s Instagram account, according to ESPN Cleveland’s Jordan Zirm. Pryor had a standout 2016 season in “The Land,” with 77 catches and 1,007 receiving yards, Pro Football Reference reports.
It’s understandable that Pryor would want to come back to Cleveland, where he had the only truly relevant season of his NFL career. Pryor has a good relationship with Jackson, who first coached him with the Cincinnati Bengals, where Jackson was the offensive coordinator. The Browns shouldn’t have to break the bank this time around to grab Pryor, who had just 20 catches and 240 yards for the Washington Redskins in 2017 in what was an unfortunate year. ESPN’s Pat McManamon demonstrated how a reunion between Jackson and the ex-Cleveland wideout would be a smart move.
“Where might be the best place for Pryor to restart his career? The Browns, where he is familiar with the coach, the system, and the terrain. Pryor had a home in Cleveland, and the Browns tried to pay him $34 million after one season as a receiver.”
Pryor coming back to Cleveland is not a guarantee, and if even if he does, the Browns still need to figure out their quarterback situation. If conventional wisdom has anything to do with it, Cleveland will take a quarterback with their first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and hopefully acquire a veteran signal-caller to show that player the ropes. That being said, if Pryor does come back to the Browns, and the QB scenario is anything better than rookie train wreck DeShone Kizer was in 2017, the Browns offense could be much better.
Much of that is contingent upon Gordon not falling back into a pattern of substance abuse and Browns Hall of Fame left tackle Joe Thomas not retiring, which are two big ifs at this point. Cleveland also needs tight end David Njoku to keep getting better going into the offseason, but that’s a safe bet. Njoku had four touchdown catches on only 60 targets as a rookie, according to Pro Football Reference. If Cleveland gets a more dynamic rushing replacement for impending free agent Isaiah Crowell (via Spotrac.com) as a complement to the pass-catching skill set of Duke Johnson, this Cleveland offense could be transformed in a relatively short amount of time.