If Jets safety Calvin Pryor was unhappy and disgruntled with the way a franchise was treating him before, just give it some before he realizes that he may have gone from bad to worse.
Just two days after reportedly being frustrated with the way his role had appeared diminished, Pryor will get a fresh start after being dealt to the Cleveland Browns – the same Browns that are coming off a 1-15 campaign, last season. Pryor seemed perturbed that he was running with the third-team defense during the media-allowed portion of OTAs on Tuesday and evaded the media throng awaiting his reaction.
The tabloids will now have to wait until later in the season to reunite with Pryor, as he was sent to Cleveland for journeyman linebacker Demario Davis, who once spent four seasons with the Jets after being drafted by them in the third round of the 2012 draft. Davis had previously signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the Browns as an unrestricted free agent before the 2016 season and registered 99 tackles and two sacks in 15 starts.
Pryor, who had 60 tackles in 15 starts last season, will now see if he can jumpstart his career – and perhaps display some happiness over a fresh start. The hard-hitting safety, who was accustomed to sending out somewhat cryptic tweets towards the end of his Jets tenure, has yet to change his Twitter profile picture of him donning the green and white, but there was a subtle word in his header (“revenge”) that could be seen as shade thrown at his now former employer. The Jets travel to Cleveland on October 8 for the second-straight year, so Pryor will get to exact just that in his new home of the Dawg Pound.
The Pryor trade was bound to happen, and it would’ve occurred sooner had there been any takers around the time of the April NFL Draft. There were reports that the Jets were shopping the former University of Louisville star, but there weren’t any real offers to consider. Instead, the Jets stayed true to their draft board and drafted arguably the best all-around defensive player in safety Jamal Adams out of LSU with the No. 6 pick. It was a selection that was widely lauded by the league and it gives the Jets a tremendous playmaker in the secondary and an immediate locker room leader – two things desperately missing on last season’s roster. Gang Green then doubled down and added University of Florida safety Marcus Maye with their No. 39 pick – and from that point on, the writing was on the wall for the former No. 18 pick Pryor. Those selections, plus the Jets declining his fifth-year option from his 2014 rookie contract, and then demoting him to the third-team defense during this week’s OTAs were essentially the dirt piled on his fresh Jets grave.
Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan, though, didn’t display any ill will and wished Pryor well.
“We appreciate Calvin’s time and contributions to our organization and wish him nothing but the best in Cleveland,” he said. “And we welcome Demario back to the Jets and look forward to having him compete as we continue our offseason.”
New York will now move ahead with its youth movement in the secondary, while Pryor gets a new lease on his still budding career. The Browns’ move could prove to be savvy and allow them to win this trade. If new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams can do for Pryor what he did for Mark Barron, then the Browns will be sending a bouquet of flowers to the Florham Park facilities. Williams took Barron (6-foot-2, 220 pounds), a former 2012 first-round safety with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who had the looks of a bust, and turned him into a very good weakside linebacker for the then-St. Louis Rams. He arrived in St. Louis via trade once Tampa gave up on him early in the 2014 season. Williams got his hands on him in St. Louis and rejuvenated his career (90 tackles, eight passes defended, and two interceptions).
Now in Cleveland, Williams can also use Pryoras a hybrid linebacker type – along with versatile rookie Jabrill Peppers – when the Browns shift to a nickel sub package. It’s easy to envision the speedy and hard-hitting Pryor playing the role of Deone Bucannon in those situations. Bucannon (6-foot-1, 215 pounds) primarily played safety at Washington State before the Arizona Cardinals got creative with his skill set and moved him into the seven-man front as a linebacker. When the Cardinals play more coverage in the backend, that’s when Bucannon shines best as a hybrid nickel linebacker/safety.
Such possibilities could prove to be a boon for Pryor, Williams, and the Browns. And if it all pans out, Pryor will get to have the best kind of revenge that every player looks for against a former employer --- success that leads to a lucrative new deal.
Gang Green notes:
- Pryor made 38 starts for the Jets over three seasons, recording 184 tackles and two interceptions. He made 15 starts last season and finished with 60 tackles.