Calvin Pryor was selected with the 18th overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. After an outstanding career at the University of Louisville, he was selected to become a playmaker within a legitimately talented defense.
But, through three seasons in New York, he failed to live up to his lofty expectations.
In his rookie year, Pryor played in all 16 regular-season games and logged 60 combined tackles (35 solo, 25 assisted) with two passes defended and no interceptions. The following year in 2015, he played in 13 regular-season games and recorded 69 tackles (50 solo, 19 assisted) with a forced fumble, two interceptions and six passes defended.
Therefore, heading into 2016, there was some optimism that he would turn the corner and have a breakout year. But, unfortunately for him and the Jets, that didn’t happen, as he posted 62 tackles (45 solo, 17 assisted) with a forced fumble, six passes defended and no interceptions in 15 games played.
Entering the final year of his rookie deal, the Jets made the decision to ship him out of town, trading him to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday in exchange for former Jet linebacker Demario Davis.
Since the Jets drafted Jamal Adams out of LSU in the first round of this year’s draft, it appeared as though Pryor would have been the odd man out, as Adams will presumably start at free safety (where Pryor spent most of his time).
Now, the Browns have an interesting choice on their hands. Since they selected Jabrill Peppers out of Michigan with the 25th overall pick, either Peppers or Pryor will have to change positions to both end up on the field at the same time.
Rich Cimini of ESPN detailed that the Jets wanted to get rid of Pryor not only due to the financial aspect of his contract, but also due to his attitude and character issues.
“Hey, when you're looking for a salary dump, just call the Browns,” Cimini wrote. “The Jets still have a $1.1 million dead charge, but this was a winning move for them from a cap standpoint. If they had released Pryor -- that was the plan if they found no takers -- they would've had to eat his salary.”
Further, “Pryor’s attitude also soured people in the organization. They felt he had an inflated opinion of himself and didn't buy into Bowles' program. Look at it this way: They could've easily kept him as a backup -- salary-wise, it was doable -- but they wanted him out of the locker room ASAP.”
Cimini went into further detail regarding the attitude issues:
“They were curious to see how he'd respond to the Adams and Maye additions, and when he didn't show up for the first day of OTA practices ... well, it confirmed their impression of him. On Tuesday, he was demoted to third string.”
Davis played linebacker for the Jets for four seasons between 2012 and 2015. At age 28, he will bring a great deal of experience back to New York, as he has never missed a game in his five-year career and recorded back-to-back 100-plus tackle seasons for the Jets in 2013 and 2014.
The trade will allow Pryor to re-write his NFL career and offers him an opportunity to show the world that he was worthy of a first-round selection. As a result, the Browns might end up with an absolute steal in a trade that has drawn stark comparisons to what the New England Patriots usually do when acquiring talented players who need a change in scenery.
If the Browns want to model any franchise, the Patriots would be a great choice.
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