WASHINGTON — New Redskins wide receiver Terrelle Pryor ignored the controversy surrounding the organization last week, put aside the uncertain status of quarterback Kirk Cousins and signed with a team he believes will help him thrive.
Pryor, a 1,000-yard receiver in his first full season playing the position in Cleveland last year, will be counted on to replace the production of the departed Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. No team in NFL history has ever lost two 1,000-yard-yard wide receivers in the same offseason.
Pryor signed a one-year contract for $8 million just one day after Washington fired general manager Scot McCloughan. Cousins has signed his $23.94 million franchise-tag tender and team officials have insisted the Redskins won’t trade him. But the quarterback is likely to become an unrestricted free agent after the season if the two sides don’t agree to a long-term contract extension.
“At the end of the day it’s an opportunity to play in the NFL. I don’t take any of those for granted,” Pryor said. “I can’t really control or have a say in what’s going on internally. I think they’re handling that internally. All I can do is just come in and be the best teammate that I can be and work my butt off and prove I belong. I’m along with them for the journey and what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Pryor says he traded text messages with Cousins over the weekend and the quarterback has made tentative plans to meet with his wide receivers this offseason to train together. It doesn’t sound like a quarterback who is headed out of town. But that is out of Pryor’s control anyway.
“I signed to be a Washington Redskin no matter who the quarterback is,” Pryor said. “But I’m assuming. I’d love the opportunity to play with Kirk without a doubt. He’s a great quarterback.”
Pryor has been training in his native Pittsburgh and at times in Charlotte with former Pro Bowl wide receiver Randy Moss. He talked to reporters on a conference call Monday from a gym.
Pryor said he met Washington coach Jay Gruden, offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh and wide receiver’s coach Ike Hilliard for dinner last week to get a feel for how he’d be used in the offense. Both sides came away confident Pryor was a good fit. He played in a similar offense in Cleveland under Hue Jackson, who was the running backs coach in Cincinnati when Gruden was the offensive coordinator there and Pryor’s head coach in Oakland. The terminology will change. But Pryor, entering just his second full year as a wide receiver, liked that he could stay in a familiar scheme.
Pryor’s lack of concern about the state of the organization makes sense when looking at his history. He’s been through chaos before to even get to this point at age 27. From star quarterback at Ohio State, where an illegal benefits scandal engulfed the program and led to an early departure for the NFL, to a washout as a quarterback in Oakland under Jackson, Pryor had to learn wide receiver from scratch.
At 6-foot-4, 223 pounds, he had the physical abilities, but he’s put in the work for over two years now to turn himself into a quality player. Pryor had 77 receptions for the Browns in 2016 for 1,007 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Pressing the Redskins on whether Cousins would be back wasn’t a major priority.
“I don’t want to say it was my first priority because at the end of the day you want to be wanted. You want to be with a team that wants you to be on the team,” Pryor said. “In Washington, they were very aggressive in terms of wanting me to be on the team. I played with six quarterbacks last year [in Cleveland]. I don’t think it could get that bad. Obviously, I would like to play with Kirk. I would be an idiot if I didn’t believe that.”
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