OTAs May Be Meaningless, But Pryor’s Absence Speaks Volumes

Scott Mason on Calvin Pryor’s decisions to skip New York Jets OTAs

The debut of our brand new podcast “Play Like A Jet” at Turn on the Jets Digital on June 2 is just one week away.  Each week we will be taking a look back at the biggest moments in Jets history.  This will include games, seasons, player’s careers, and other special events.  I’m excited to get started with the show and I look forward to getting your feedback on Twitter @playlikeajet1.

Make sure you tune in for the next edition of the TOJ podcast with Joe Caporoso and Dalbin Osorio for a major announcement on the first episode of “Play Like A Jet.”  Trust me, you DO NOT want to miss it!

While “Play Like A Jet” will be a weekly look back in time, there is still the here and now to consider for gang green at the moment.  OTA’s have begun and have already induced several important questions, including:  How can Hackenberg be both great and terrible at the same time (depending on the beat reporter, this seems to change by the hour)?  Where’s Calvin Pryor?  Will Sheldon Richardson ever shut up?  Is Josh McCown a great mentor, or is he THE GREATEST mentor?

Short answer key: (A) He’s neither, but the press desperately need something to talk about (B) Who knows (C) Probably not (D) Please kill me

I will say, though, that question number two is the only really newsworthy item to come out of OTAs.

Performances during these drills are nice fodder for the press and fun for fans to talk about, but they literally mean nothing.  Talk to me when Christian Hackenberg has to throw against real competition or when Jamal Adams is being asked to cover somebody who has ever caught a TD pass in the NFL.

But the whereabouts of Calvin Pryor.  Now, THAT is interesting.

Sure, these workouts are voluntary and Pryor doesn’t HAVE to be at them.  After all, plenty of players skip them, including Giants’ star WR Odell Beckham Jr.

The difference of course with Beckham – and most who skip voluntary OTAs – is that he is a top flight veteran who is 100% secure in both his roster spot and his starting job.

Calvin Pryor?  He shouldn’t be secure in either of those things.

The Jets drafted two safeties in the first two rounds of the 2017 draft – Jamal Adams out of LSU and Marcus Maye out of Florida – for a reason.  The team’s safety play was among the league’s worst last season, thanks in large part to Pryor, who seemed to regress significantly from the year before.

His overall play and statistics took a noticeable nose dive in every way possible, so much so that the Jets reportedly made a frenzied effort to trade him, to no avail.  When that didn’t work, the Jets made their thoughts about the former first round pick out of Louisville even clearer by declining to pick up his fifth year option, something that teams virtually never do if the player has been reasonably productive.

Pryor’s counterpart at safety, Marcus Gilchrist, was equally atrocious when healthy and has already been cut.  With Adams, Maye, Rontez Miles, and the newly signed Corey White already in tow, there should be no question that Pryor’s existence as a member of the New York Jets franchise is very much in dire peril.

You would think that given these circumstances, Pryor might want to show up to OTAs to try to make a positive impression.  You would think Pryor would want to start 2017 on the right foot with the coaching staff.  You would think Pryor would be eager to prove to the fans, the media, and – most importantly – the key decision makers with the Jets that he knows he was terrible last year, but is willing to go the extra mile and do anything he can to improve and become a valuable asset to the team.

In short, you would think Pryor would want to make an early effort to save his job.

Apparently, you’d be wrong.

Instead, Pryor skipped the voluntary OTAs that could have been a golden chance to start fresh and begin rebuilding his career and reputation.  He has left the fans and media asking where he is and has them collectively scratching their heads at what seems to be a wasted opportunity.

To be fair, Pryor’s absence from OTAs doesn’t necessarily mean anything.  He could shine in training camp and even if the Jets do cut him, he’s only 24 and would surely get another look elsewhere.

But for a guy who is quite literally on the edge of the 53 man roster right now, most reasonable people would assume that sending a positive message about his commitment to improvement and desire to stick around would be a fairly high priority.

Those reasonable people would also be wrong.

The Jets used premium draft capital – the 18th pick in the first round – to obtain Pryor out of Louisville and he certainly showed some flashes in his sophomore season, so every Jets fan should hope his tenure here can still end happily.  But this no-show is not going to help.  If nothing else, it produces bad optics and displays decision making ability that is questionable at best.

There’s no way around it: Calvin Pryor just made his already uphill battle much more difficult.  And while anything is possible, in the end, I would be fairly surprised if #11 on Joe Caporoso’s 2017 predictions doesn’t come true.

Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com