After weeks of trying, the New York Jets traded former first-round pick Calvin Pryor to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday, reacquiring linebacker Demario Davis -- a starter for the Jets from 2013 to 2015.
The Jets had been trying to trade Pryor since the draft, when they selected Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye -- both safeties -- in the first two rounds. Pryor irked some people in the organization by not showing up for the first OTA practice last week. He practiced on the second day of the voluntary workouts, but his one-day absence was perceived as a message. Not coincidentally, he was demoted to third string for the second week of organized team activities.
The return of Davis gives the Jets three starting-caliber insider linebackers. He will join David Harris and Darron Lee (a first-round pick in 2016) in a suddenly crowded linebacking corps. This will raise questions about Harris' future, as he's 33 years old and entering the final year of his contract.
Davis reflected on the trade in an Instagram post Thursday.
I want to thank Jimmy and Dee Haslem, Sashi Brown, Andrew Berry, and Hue Jackson for giving me the opportunity to spend an amazing year with the Cleveland Browns. I have nothing but good things to say about this 1st class organization, that's on its way to shocking the world. To my brothers in the lockerroom; the stage is set, go make it happen. In this past year, I've grown as a person and a player in ways that wouldn't have happened in any other circumstance. For that I'm thankful to the one who's in control, the man upstairs. Be blessed Cleveland! New York City 🎉 #ImComingHome
Coach Todd Bowles said Tuesday that Pryor was "working hard in practice." Speaking in general terms, he said, "We draft people every year. If anybody's going to cry about somebody drafting somebody at their spot and not go out there and play, this is not the league for them."
The Jets were planning to release Pryor, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported.
Pryor, drafted 18th overall in 2014, fell out of favor with the current regime, which didn't draft him. He showed promise in 2015 under Bowles, but he regressed last season and lost playing time. In 15 games, he had no interceptions and only one forced fumble.
It became clear during and after the draft that Pryor had no long-term future with the Jets, who declined to exercise the fifth-year option on his contract.
"We appreciate Calvin's time and contributions to our organization and wish him nothing but the best in Cleveland," Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan said. "We welcome Demario back to the Jets and look forward to having him compete as we continue our offseason."
Pryor started 38 of his 44 games with the Jets.
"Calvin is a young, experienced safety that has upside," said Sashi Brown, the Browns' executive vice president of football operations. "We are pleased to be able to add him to our defensive back room and just like every player we acquire, we expect him to come in with a hardworking mindset ready to compete.
"Demario is a guy that we developed the utmost respect for in his time with our team, not only as a professional but also as a person. We appreciate all he did for our organization in his time in Cleveland."
Davis was a third-round pick of the Jets in 2012, and he left on good terms as a free agent. He played 16 games last season in Cleveland, finishing with 99 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble.
Though the Browns lack depth at safety, the trade is a mild surprise in that Davis had seemed slated to start at linebacker. The Browns have Jamie Collins and Chris Kirksey, but both are expected to play outside.
ESPN Browns reporter Pat McManamon contributed to this report.