WASHINGTON — The Redskins have lost their top two wide receivers in free agency, but hope to make up for it tonight when they host Cleveland’s Terrelle Pryor in Ashburn.
DeSean Jackson signed a contract with Tampa Bay. Pierre Garcon is headed to San Francisco. According to ESPN Stats & Info, it is the first time in NFL history a team has lost two 1,000-yard wide receivers in one offseason.
Pryor would help mitigate that some. The one-time quarterback at Ohio State made the full-time transition to receiver with the Browns last season. Washington saw his talent in person in an Oct. 2 game at FedEx Field. Pryor’s size – he’s 6-foot-4, 233 pounds – gave cornerback Josh Norman fits in the first half of that game. Pryor caught four passes for 42 yards and a touchdown and tossed Norman around like a rag toll. He’s that physically imposing.
Pryor didn’t show much as a deep threat. He caught four passes over 40 yards with a long of 54. But he had 77 receptions despite sub-par quarterback play for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns. You would have to think that size will come in handy in the red zone, where Washington must improve.
Cleveland is still a threat to keep Pryor. He played college football at Ohio State and has said repeatedly he has some loyalty to the Browns, who made a ton of impact free-agent signings on Thursday on the offensive line and at wide receiver. They have the salary-cap space if they want to use it.
But if Cleveland decides they’ve spent enough, then Pryor is a good fit for the Redskins. And maybe the only good fit left on the open market. They have to be careful not to overbid against themselves here.
One bonus: Pryor is 27. He turns 28 in June. That’s two years younger than Garcon and Jackson, who are both 30. You’d feel a little more comfortable paying big dollars to a player who still has some upside given just one year at the position.
Pryor, of course, was drafted as a quarterback by Oakland in 2011 and started nine games at that position with the Raiders in 2013. That also allows Jay Gruden to get creative when calling plays. Pryor completed five of nine passes in 2016 with a long of 26 yards. He also had eight carries for 21 yards and a touchdown.
Pryor would stabilize a decimated wide receiver position. But there is still talent here – depending on the health of wide receiver Josh Doctson. He missed all but two games in 2016 and barely practiced because of Achilles tendon pain that started in May. But Doctson, sources say, is closing in on 100 percent and hasn’t had a setback in his rehab this offseason. He documents that regularly on his Snapchat account running through drills at Redskins Park.
Jamison Crowder is already one of the game’s top slot receiver and the team is comfortable moving him outside, if needed. Washington’s coaching staff still likes reserve Ryan Grant for his blocking ability and his consistency – even if he isn’t a gamebreaker. And Maurice Harris, an undrafted college free agent last year, earned snaps toward the end of the season.
If the Redskins add Pryor – still a big question, though getting people in the building usually works out well for them – then this offense has a chance to be very good again with tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis dangerous in their own right.
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