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Sports Today: Terrelle Pryor, Joe Mixon, Ohio State spring football, more Reds wins and Archie Miller’s nerves

The Cleveland Browns are in a quandary over what to do with Terrelle Pryor. 

The former Ohio State quarterback had a breakout season as a receiver in 2016, and aside from that being five years after he entered the league, it was pretty good timing. 

He’s a free agent now ready to cash in. There have been indications he wants to do that in Cleveland, but are the Browns willing to pay the going rate? 

Well, not surprisingly it depends on what the going rate is, and that is apparently up for debate according to long-time Cleveland writer Tony Grossi

As noted by ProFootballTalk.com, this will be a test of the Browns’ faith in analytics. It could also tell us something about how much they are about how much the fans care – for better or for worse. 

Pryor passes the eye test at 6-4, 223, and he is reportedly popular with the fans, who haven’t had much else to cheer for lately, but the numbers might not say he is as sound an investment as he might seem to the naked eye. 

This reminds me of the situation the Reds found themselves in when extending Brandon Phillips’ contract a few years ago. 

Obviously there are several key differences from this situation (starting with Phillips not being a free agent who could immediately sign with a new team), but the public relations aspect is similar. 

Back then the Reds were still not far removed from one of the longest stretches without a postseason berth in team history. They had a hard time drawing fans even early in their late ‘00s renaissance, and some of that was probably a result of a lack of faith in the fan base to maintain success even if they achieved it. 

Small market teams have to be smart with their money, but they can’t do what the Pirates did and let every asset go for two decades in the name of fiscal sanity, either. 

Recently acquired Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips is all smiles fielding a grounder on his first day at spring training Friday. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com) (Curtis Compton/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Reds needed to overpay Phillips (based on what his age would be late in the deal) to prove to fans they aren’t wasting their time investing in the team and its stars. (I’d say this was also at play in signing Joey Votto, but having Votto already locked up made the choice to pay Phillips thornier. The aging All-Star second baseman became more of a luxury item once they had invested that much in Votto.)

The Browns, who aren’t close to being good but have a real dearth of stars, also have a credibility problem. They were right to clean house last year and not worry about being any good, but at some point there’s something to be said for giving fans ANYTHING to like. 

I’m sure we in the media (both professional and social) overhype the effect if PR, but it does exist. Letting Pryor go might make sense on paper, but signing him probably won’t cripple the team, either, so giving the fans something to feel good about might be worth a little extra investment… 

I suppose the other news of the morning – the Browns and Bengals both reportedly met with Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon on Tuesday night prior to his Pro Day – is related to this as well. 

Mixon is obviously talented, but he is toxic after punching a fellow student in the head in 2014 led to a season-long suspension. 

The first response I saw when I clicked on the ESPN reporter’s tweet about this was a Cleveland fan saying they are done with the Browns if they draft Mixon. 

Someone is going to pick up Mixon because they decide the PR hit is worth it to make their football team better… 

The Reds won yet again Tuesday to run their spring training streak to five victories in a row. 

Sal Romano had a strong outing after allowing a home run in his first inning of work while Michael Lorenzen gave up two runs in 1 2/3 innings. Blake Wood and Tony Cingrani both pitched scoreless innings. 

While we wait for touted prospects Robert Stephenson, Amir Garrett and Cody Reed to break through, Romano might end up being the sleeper for this rotation, which for my money holds the key to the Reds having a season anywhere near decent. 

They should score runs, and the bullpen will probably be solid if everyone who is expected to be available is healthy, but the team could still be in dire straits if it can’t get at least solid outings from the starters on a regular basis… 

George Washington fans yell at Dayton coach Archie Miller on Saturday, March 4, 2017, at the Smith Center in Washington, D.C. (David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

Are the Dayton Flyers a lock for the NCAA tournament? 

The Atlantic 10 champions would seem to be, but coach Archie Miller admitted he will still be nervous on Selection Sunday if his team isn’t sitting there with possession of the conference tournament trophy, too. 

It’s hard to blame him considering the Flyers were inexplicably sent to the First Four two years ago despite most projections having them solidly in the field. 

There’s also the issue of St. Bonaventure missing the field last season despite sharing the regular season league title with Dayton and VCU.

I’m not sure how good you can feel on selection day with the vibe they’ve given us the last couple of years,” Miller said. “I don’t believe our league is being respected enough at the top at least right now because they view that the league has been down.” 

Day one of spring practice for Ohio State football seemed to go about as expected, although the media in attendance were left wondering why a couple of classic rock songs (including The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again”) provided the soundtrack for the team’s warmup periods instead of the more contemporary selections we are used to hearing.

RELATED: Meyer names candidates to start up front, including Springfield native 

A team spokesman said he wasn’t sure who picked the music, but there was some symbolism that was hard to miss for a team that spent all of last season trying to prove it belonged in the College Football Playoff then fell flat on its face once it go there… 

Local gems: The Bengals extended a tenure offer to one of their free agent offensive linemen… Future Buckeye Kaleb Romero is on the verge of making history for Mechanicsburg wrestling at the state tournament this week… Greeneview grad Evan Bradds and Belmont won’t be part of the NCAA tournament, but it sounds like the senior has no regrets about his college choice… Here are five things to know about Springfield and other Clark County teams in the postseason this week. 

Today’s jam: “Papercut” by Linkin Park. 

Yes, I am old enough to remember when they were good. 

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