PHOENIX: Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said Jan. 1 that one of the franchise’s top priorities this offseason would be to re-sign its key players.
It accomplished the goal with linebacker Jamie Collins, but wide receiver Terrelle Pryor left the team as a free agent March 10 and signed a one-year contract with Washington worth $6 million, plus another $2 million in incentives.
“We think we made an extremely fair offer to Terrelle. Extremely fair. OK?” Haslam said Monday during the NFL owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore hotel and resort. “It’s a long-term contract, et cetera, and Terrelle decided not to take it. So there’s nothing we could do about that.”
The Browns tried to sign Pryor for months and presented him with multiple offers for what they considered fair-market value. They originally proposed signing him to a long-term deal worth between $8 million to $9 million per year, but he decided to test the open market because he wanted to be paid like an elite receiver and make possibly as much as $15 million a season.
The front office led by head of football operations Sashi Brown and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta reacted March 9 by signing receiver Kenny Britt to a four-year deal worth $32.5 million, including $17 million guaranteed. It’s a deal the Browns would have been willing to give Pryor.
“Free agency is very fluid, and it’s a little bit like musical chairs,” Haslam said. “You’ve got to be careful making sure that you’re not left standing up, and so when Terrelle decided to move on, we decided to move on.
“We made a very aggressive offer for Terrelle. We’re disappointed it didn’t get done. Wish him the best. He had a good season here. It was a good addition to the team. We’re sorry we couldn’t work things out, but we’re excited about adding Kenny Britt.”
In the end, Pryor didn’t land the contract he wanted, so he bet on himself with a one-year deal in hopes of earning a huge payday next offseason.
“You can’t take it personally,” Haslam said. “Good guy, good player, hopefully he’ll do well, and hopefully Kenny will do well with us. So we’re not going to talk about Terrelle anymore.”
Fans and media won’t stop talking about Pryor, though, and he’ll be compared to Britt.
Britt, 28, produced similarly to Pryor last year. However, it was Britt’s eighth NFL season and Pryor’s first full season as a receiver after switching from quarterback.
Britt started all 15 games in which he appeared for the Los Angeles Rams and had career highs in catches (68) and receiving yards (1,002) to go along with five touchdowns.
Pryor, 27, led the Browns with 77 catches for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.