Quarterback is by far the most demanding and difficult of all football positions. Not surprisingly then, NFL history is rife with examples of highly anticipated quarterbacks who never lived up to their potential — busts, in other words. Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell, Heath Shuler, Rick Mirer, and Andre Ware are just a few of the more notable examples of QBs who didn’t pan out.
Terrelle Pryor also deserves a place on that list, although unlike other QB busts Pryor successfully reinvented himself as a receiver. In fact, Pryor believed in his new skillset so much that he even turned down a lucrative offer from the Cleveland Browns. Here we take a look at Pryor’s football career so far, as well as the money he left on the table in 2017.
Terrelle Pryor: a promising young quarterback
Terrelle Pryor first established himself as a promising young quarterback in high school. Not only did the 6’4″ Pryor have a good arm, but he was also a phenomenal athlete with above-average speed.
In 2007, Pryor set a Pennsylvania state record when he became the first player to both throw and rush for 4,000 yards. For accomplishments like that, Pryor was twice named the Pennsylvania Player of the Year.
Not surprisingly, Pryor was one of the hottest college recruits going into 2008. He was ranked as the number four overall prospect — and the number one quarterback in the 2008 ESPNU 150.
In the end, Pryor chose to attend Ohio State University. His playing continued to show promise, especially in his junior year, when he threw 210 completions for 2772 yards, with a 65.0% completion rate.
Pryor withdrew prior to his senior year, having previously been suspended by the team for various infractions, including selling memorabilia. Instead, Pryor held a Pro Day in August 2011. As an NFL prospect, he was prized for his speed and arm strength, although his accuracy remained a problem and his questionable work ethic raised some red flags.
An abortive career as NFL quarterback
Ultimately, the Oakland Raiders took Terrelle Pryor in the third round of the 2011 Supplemental Draft. Shortly thereafter, he signed a four-year deal with the team.
He saw limited action in the 2011 and 2012 seasons. His chance finally came in 2013, when he appeared in 11 games, playing as the starting quarterback in nine of them.
Pryor struggled in that role, however. He threw 272 pass attempts and completed just 156 of them, for a 57.4 completion percentage. He also threw 11 interceptions and was sacked 31 times. He also struggled with injuries, and was ultimately relegated to a backup role. In 2014, the Raiders traded Pryor to the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks released Pryor before the season began. He worked out for several teams but could generate no interest. Abortive stints with the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals followed, at which point Pryor stated that he was open to changing his position to wide receiver. He finally got a chance to fill that role with the Cleveland Browns.
Terrelle Pryor’s career as a wide receiver
Pryor became a starting wide receiver for the Browns in the 2016 season. His speed served him well in the new role. Over the course of the season, he tallied 177 receptions for a total of 1,007 yards and scored four touchdowns. The dismal Browns were overjoyed at their good fortune, and soon offered Pryor a four-year deal worth $32.5 million, with a $17 million guarantee.
Analysts considered the offer highly generous, especially for a player just coming off his first season as a wide receiver. Yet Pryor evidently felt he was worth more because he turned the Browns down.
Instead, he signed a one-year $8 million deal with the Washington Redskins. Injuries and poor play limited Pryor significantly, and despite brief stops with the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars, he has hardly played since then. To date, his decision not to sign the Browns’ deal has cost him $24 million, according to Complex.