Just when you thought the NFC West arms race couldn’t get any hotter, news broke last night that the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers were both jockeying for quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s services.
Despite Pryor showing potential in limited opportunities last season, Bleacher Report’s Aaron Nagler reported on February 22 that the Raiders were actively shopping the quarterback.
To some, the news came as a surprise based on the fact he threw for 1,798 yards and rushed for 576 yards in 2013. Others, though, could see the move coming from a mile away.
Yes, Pryor often extended plays and drives with his feet, but his arm talent was too inconsistent on a weekly basis. This led to his eventual downfall. According to the analysts at Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Pryor finished the year with the lowest PFF pass grade in the NFL.
His negative-24.4 pass grade on 611 snaps was the second-worst grade PFF has handed out to quarterbacks over the last two years. The only player who recorded a lower grade was Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden with a negative-29.3 grade in 2012.
Obviously, PFF is not the end-all, be-all, but it is a valuable tool used by teams around the league. With that being said, one has to truly wonder what Pryor offers the Seahawks at the quarterback position.
A handful of pundits, including A.J. Perez of NJ.com, have suggested a possible move to tight end, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk put that notion to rest shortly after the trade was announced, reporting, “Per a source with knowledge of the situation, he will indeed remain a quarterback.”
Based on Florio’s comment, it’s safe to say Pryor will compete with Tarvaris Jackson for the team’s No. 2 quarterback job. In theory, that makes a ton of sense. Jackson just turned 31 on April 21 and is currently set to make $1.25 million in 2014.
As far as backup quarterbacks go, $1.25 million is pennies. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Seahawks may be looking for a younger signal-caller with upside to back up Russell Wilson.
Additionally, Seattle may be looking for more of an athlete to man its No. 2 job. Seahawks general manager John Schneider said of Pryor in a team-issued release Monday (h/t Pro Football Talk), “Terrelle is an incredibly explosive athlete and we’re excited for him to come in and compete.”
The keyword there is compete. The Seahawks love holding an open competition at every position on a yearly basis. Shoot, that’s how Wilson came in and stole the starting quarterback job from Matt Flynn in 2012.
Does that mean Pryor will steal the starting quarterback job from Wilson? No, but it does mean he will get a fair shot at cracking the 53-man roster as Seattle’s No. 2 quarterback.
Christopher Hansen, the AFC West lead writer for Bleacher Report, believes Pryor’s best option is “sitting behind an established starter and trying to improve. If Pryor can reach the point that his passing is competent, he can be a primary backup who is extra useful because he can play in special offensive sub packages.”
Hansen’s right: Pryor is only 24 years old. He hasn’t reached his ceiling as a player and can still be coached up to play at a high level. By no means does that mean he will ever be a Pro Bowl quarterback. It just means his value could skyrocket with the proper coaching.
Let’s not forget, Pryor is set to hit the open market at the end of the 2014 season. This, in turn, means a year on the bench behind Wilson could help him land an even better gig next season.
The NFL is a league that is desperate for quarterbacks, so it shouldn’t shock anyone if Pryor capitalizes on his opportunity in Seattle and battles for a starting quarterback job elsewhere in 2015.
In typical Seahawks fashion, they made a low-risk, high-reward move that could pay dividends. If the move doesn’t work out, that’s OK too. Seventh-round picks aren’t exactly a premium when you have a roster loaded with talent.
Plus, Pryor has already shown enough in three seasons to prove he belongs in the NFL. The same can’t be said of the prospects chosen in the seventh round of this year’s draft.