Jets would be wise to continue development of Calvin Pryor
By Paul Jonathan Hardy
As the New York Jets enter a rebuilding year, it’s important to remember that safety Calvin Pryor has more than enough talent to bounce back after a terrible 2016 season.
General manager Mike Maccagnan had many questions to answer regarding some players future with the New York Jets after their horrible 5-11 season. He answered the call, releasing several veterans such as kicker Nick Folk and center Nick Mangold. One player who could be on the chopping block as well is safety Calvin Pryor.
Pryor, 24 years old, was selected by the Jets with the 18th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, coming out of Louisville. The 5’11ft, 207lbs safety played very well in 2015, participating in 13 games with a combined 69 tackles, six passes defended and two interceptions, but took a huge step back in 2016, as did the whole Jets secondary.
Even though starting in 15 out of 16 games, he only had 62 tackles, six passes defended and zero interceptions. Need some comparison?
Eric Berry, SS, Kansas City Chiefs: 16 games played, 77 combined tackles, 9 PDs, 4 INTs.
Patrick Chung, SS, New England Patriots: 16 games played, 91 combined tackles, 3 PDs, 1 INT.
Kam Chancellor, SS, Seattle Seahawks: 12 games played, 85 combined tackles, 8 PDef’s, 2 INTs.
Pryor entered the NFL with a reputation as a big hitter, which, without a doubt, played a major role in the Jets decision to draft him in Round 1. Things started out slowly as he totaled only forced one fumble in 2016, one in 2015 and again, just one in 2014. Makes three in just three years which is a severe lack of production from the position for someone who hits hard and with purpose.
But not just his stats looked worse, his coverage skills regressed in 2016 as well. Just look back at how he got toasted together with Darrelle Revis by A.J. Green and Andy Dalton in Week 1 of last season. Not to mention what Tom Brady and the New England Patriots did to him.
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Plus adding new problems to his play, he hasn’t worked on his old ones either: His biggest issue had always been inconsistency. Being unbeatable in one week, he made a lot of major mistakes the next game you simply cannot afford if you want to be a starting safety in the NFL.
To sum up, Pryor’s 2016 has been depressing, to say the least. So what shall Maccagnan do? Trust him to get it right next season? Trade him?
Pryor’s contract features a 5th-year option throughout 2018 that the Jets would have to take by May 3. Asked about Pryor’s status, Maccagnan said via the Media Relations Department of the Jets:
“Those are things that will work themselves out in time. I would say at this point in time, that’s not something I want to weigh in and comment on.”
Non-answering the question regarding Pryor’s future is an indication that his place within the organization should be indeed subject to speculation. Something that speaks against Pryor staying in New York is that the Jets worked out future first-round-picks Malik Hooker out of Ohio State and Jamal Adams out of LSU. Both can be seen as possible Pryor-replacements.
Another interpretation of the Jets looking at the two future secondary superstars could be, though, that Pryor’s counterpart Marcus Gilchrist‘s roster spot could be in danger. Gilchrist spent most of the last season on injured reserve. Even though he was just re-signed this offseason, it makes sense to bring in some competition in case he’s not up to par.
At the end of the day, Pryor has more upside than Gilchrist as it makes sense to continue his development with the Jets. Trading Pryor also will be difficult at this point in time. This year’s draft class is stacked with talented defensive backs. This immediately hurts Pryor’s trade-stock immensely.
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It doesn’t make sense to cut or trade Pryor. He has the skillset to rebound this upcoming season and prove his worth. Pryor is still young and can still develop into a very good player. But it could be highly possible that they draft one safety to replace Gilchrist and/or for quality depth. His job is way more in danger than Pryor’s is in the grand scheme of things.