What is fair value for Terrelle Pryor's new contract?

The Cleveland Browns continue to work to ensure that receiver Terrelle Pryor does not reach free agency.

The Browns face an interesting choice with Pryor as they try to sign him to a new deal. Determining his true value is not easy given that he has been a receiver for only one season.

In that season, he played well, catching 77 passes for 1,007 yards with four touchdowns. He led the Browns in each of those categories.

Pryor's work ethic in moving from quarterback to receiver in the middle of his career cannot be questioned. He did something that only Marlin Briscoe had done before him, and that happened in 1968 and 1969, when Briscoe played for Denver in the AFL. In two years, Pryor went from project to making the team to starter to established receiver.

That is in his favor.

So is his work ethic.

What works against the 27-year-old as he seeks a new deal is that he did it for only one season, and that he was more or less the only consistent target for a bad team.

One line of thinking could be that Pryor played well. The other is that somebody had to catch the passes for a bad team, and it was him.

Picking at Pryor is unfair given what he accomplished, though. The risk with Pryor is the risk with any free agent or potential free agent: overpaying. The notion might seem comical given that the Browns have $100 million in salary-cap room, but overspending for one player could lead to overspending for others.

The Browns were not extravagant when they gave linebacker Jamie Collins a four-year, $50 million deal. It made Collins among the highest-paid linebackers in the league, but that's the way the Browns view him in Gregg Williams' defense. His deal was generous, but not outrageous.

What is Pryor worth?

One way is to judge what players like him made in 2016.

In terms of numbers, Pryor's most significant was his total yards. He ranked 22nd in the league, and was one of 25 players to top 1,000 for the season.

The five immediately ahead of him were Tyrell Williams of San Diego, Pierre Garcon of Washington, Emmanuel Sanders of Denver, Larry Fitzgerald of Arizona and Mike Wallace of Baltimore. The five behind Pryor were DeSean Jackson of Washington, Michael Crabtree of Oakland, Kenny Britt of the Rams, Davante Adams of Green Bay and Adam Thielen of Minnesota.

Three of those 10 players were on their rookie deals, so the contracts of Williams, Adams and Thielen can't be considered because theirs were not comparable to a free agent's.

The others signed contracts between two and five years, and averaging between $4.5 million and $11 million per year.

Taken together, the average salary of all seven for the course of their contracts was $8.18 million. This is not top-receiver money like Julio Jones ($14.25 million), A.J. Green ($15 million) or Dez Bryant ($14 million) makes. It's closer to bottom-third No. 1 receiver pay.

Which, given Pryor's experience as a receiver and his production in one season as a starter, seems fair.

Spotrac tracks salaries in all sports and projects a market value for a player based on position, playing time and production.

The site calculated Pryor's value at $8.9 million per year, which is in line with the average of the players around him, with an increase for free agency and for a 1,000-yard season.

An average annual salary of $9 million seems like the ceiling. Could the Browns go to $10 million per season, or perhaps even $11 million?

They could.

Teams extend themselves for free agents, and to keep their players from free agency. But based on Collins' deal, the Browns don't seem inclined to overpay, which is what an $11 or $12 million deal would seem to be.

Pryor, though, knows that in free agency it takes only one team to make him wealthy.
 The Browns have to judge his worth with what they want to pay.

If they cannot work out a new deal, they could give Pryor the franchise tag.

That figure is expected to be worth $15.795 million for one year.