Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor took a fairly circuitous route to the NFL, despite a highly regarded collegiate career at Ohio State. Of course being one of the most prominent players involved in the memorabilia scandal that led to sanctions being placed on the program and the resignation of coach Jim Tressel effected everything for him, leading to his leaving school prior to what would have been his senior season in 2011.
Pryor was selected in the third round of the 2011 supplemental draft by the Raiders, in one of the last moves overseen by legendary owner Al Davis prior to his death. He has not seen much action to this point in his two seasons, with his two career pass attempts, one carry and one reception all coming over the last two games.
But opportunity may knock for Pryor in the Raiders’ regular season finale against the San Diego Chargers. Starting quarterback Carson Palmer will miss Sunday’s game due to cracked ribs and a bruised lung, while backup Matt Leinart was not impressive last week against the Carolina Panthers (16-for-32 for 115 yards, one interception) after Palmer was injured.
Raiders’ head coach Dennis Allen has suggested Pryor is not ready to run the team’s entire base offense, but also did not officially name a starter for Week 17 on Monday. That suggests the door is still open for Pryor to start, and with a 4-11 record Oakland’s coaching staff should be open to the idea of giving him more significant action even if he does not start.
Oakland faces a big decision at quarterback after the season, as Palmer will turn 33 on December 27 and seems like a poor fit for a team with a largely younger roster that is clearly far from playoff contention. He is also due to make $13 million in 2013, leading to some speculation about his future with the Raiders already. He could simply be released, or the team could ask him to restructure his contract again as they did last offseason. If the Raiders do choose to cut ties with Palmer there is not a clear replacement currently on the roster, as Leinart is on a one-year deal this season and is unlikely to be back.
Oakland may consider using their first round pick in April, looking likely to be a top-10 pick right now, on a quarterback in an effort to add someone with upside to the mix at the position. But they have plenty of other needs throughout their roster, so they may wind up trading that high pick in an effort to move down and accumulate more picks in later rounds.
There are a lot of questions and potential moving parts for the Raiders as they try to lock down their quarterback situation, but at this point Pryor has a chance to at least be in the mix to compete for the starting job in 2013. How much action he sees on Sunday, and how effective he is, may help set the stage for his role next season. If he sees minimal action again that would leave the Raiders, and dynasty league fantasy football owners, will little to go on in terms of evaluating Pryor fairly. Simply put, there is nothing to lose by letting him play extensively against the Chargers and put some good things (as well some not so good things, surely) on tape.
Right now Pryor’s fantasy appeal is limited to very deep dynasty leagues, but that has a chance to change as the 2013 season gets closer. His name recognition alone may make him a player to watch during Raiders’ training camp next summer, particularly if their offseason moves allow him a realistic chance to start Week 1.