BEREA, Ohio — Calvin Pryor knew changes would be made after the Jets’ 5-11 season in 2016, even though he had hoped to be a part of the solution moving forward. He knew that would not be the case by the final weekend in April.
Once the Jets drafted safeties Jamal Adams of LSU in the first round and Marcus Maye of Florida in the second, Pryor understood it was only a matter of time before his run with the Jets would be over.
On June 1, it was official.
The Jets traded Pryor, their first-round pick in 2014, for Browns linebacker Demario Davis, who had been a Jet from 2012 through 2015.
“Wasn’t shocked at all,” Pryor said Thursday after a morning walk-through practice at the Browns’ training facility. “It’s a business. Them drafting two safeties early, I knew something was up. But at the same time, everything happens for a reason.”
He believes the reason will be a positive one. With a new start in Cleveland, where the Browns are building from the ground up with a host of young players, Pryor hopes this is a start of a successful run for the long-suffering franchise. The Browns have made the playoffs just once since 1999, the year the team was re-established in Cleveland as an expansion franchise. But Pryor likes the vibe around his new team, and believes there’s something special here.
“I could tell this team is headed in the right direction,” he said. “We have a lot of young talent, and I can tell when we come out here and work every day, busting our butts to get better, doing whatever is expected of us by the coaches. I definitely think this group is headed in the right direction, and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
There are no guarantees here for Pryor, who is being rotated with several other players at safety, including first-round pick Jabrill Peppers of Michigan. But at least there is a chance, a chance that was taken away once the Jets decided in the off-season Pryor had become expendable.
Pryor certainly noticed the dramatic housecleaning by the Jets, which ultimately included him, but he harbors no bitterness over the way things turned out.
“There’s a lot that goes on upstairs [in management],” he said. “The players never really know what’s going on. I knew there were going to be some changes. I just didn’t know what exactly those changes would be.”
Or that he would be one of them. At least not until the draft.
“My focus is right here on the Cleveland Browns,” he said. “I’m not worried about the past. Of course, I have brothers who I miss dearly, but at the same time, they’ve got a job to do, and I’ve got a job to do.”
Pryor’s biggest takeaway from his experience? “Every day is an interview,” he said. “Every day, you have to go out there and prove your worth at keeping your job. Once the games come, you have to show up.”
The Jets decided Pryor’s game-day performance wasn’t up to snuff, in part because of his limited range in pass coverage. He was one of the team’s toughest tacklers, but his inconsistency against the pass prompted the Jets to take Adams and Maye, both of whom have looked solid early in training camp.
Pryor has no regrets about his time with the Jets.
“I don’t regret anything,” he said. “I love life to the fullest.”
And there’s at least one benefit to playing in Cleveland.
“I don’t have to talk to you [reporters] as much now,” he said, “so I’m in a much better place.”
Pryor was actually quite engaging with the media, offering many insightful — and often pointed — thoughts and criticisms during his Jets career. Those days are apparently over.
“I just don’t care to talk to the media any more like I had to do in New York,” he said. “I don’t have to do that too much here. That’s the best thing I like so far.”