The Washington Commanders clinched gold in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Terrelle Pryor’s failed experiment, Paul Richardson Jr.’s swing and failed signing, and the first-round pick’s lack of production Josh Doctson, led to an extremely exhausted reception hall.
Then came Terry McLaurin. Drafted to be the team’s special teams ace, he exceeded those expectations and more. Despite receiving assists from eight different quarterbacks during his three years in Washington, McLaurin was one of the most consistent contributors on the entire roster.
He amassed over 3,000 receiving yards in his first three years, totaling over 1,000 in his second and third years while coming just short of the 1,000 yard barometer in his freshman year. On top of all that, he was one of the dressing room leaders.
Leading by example, he received a captain’s patch in his second year at Washington and was one of the faces of the new Commanders image. McLaurin is a fan favorite and one of the cornerstones of the franchise.
Entering his fourth and final year on his rookie contract, he is now eligible for an extension.
The talks are not necessarily hostile, but according to Nicki Jhabvala from the Washington Post, the two camps are still far apart and McLaurin will likely miss the mandatory minicamp. Al Galdi also noted that the last two players in Washington to skip minicamp, Trent Williams and Albert Haynesworth, didn’t hang around any longer.
While this doesn’t cause Commanders fans to sound the alarm on Code Red, it is a somewhat significant development. Washington could still sign McLaurin to an extension before training camp and that becomes a non-factor, but frankly, he shouldn’t have reached this point.
Washington Needs to extend McLaurin. Terry McLaurin is one of those “you gotta pay it” guys. Commanders need to complete this one.
The importance of extending Terry McLaurin for the Commanders
Ron Rivera preached how important team culture is to franchise success. To create a positive culture, players must embody it. And Terry McLaurin is that player for Washington. He is humble, has never complained about the less than ideal QB situation, has been a productive player and is a leader in the locker room.
If Washington weren’t to extend McLaurin this offseason, chances are McLaurin will still play. It is almost impossible financially to hold a season for the whole season with the new CBA agreement signed in 2020.
But it will cause unnecessary friction and force the team to take the franchise route. It will make those culture buzzwords ring hollow. If Ron Rivera and Co. doesn’t reward the player for embodying “the culture” and being productive, then it becomes press conference jargon.
McLaurin is Washington’s “alpha” wide receiver. In a large receiver class in 2019 that included the likes of AJ Brown, DK Metcalf, Deebo Samuel, Hunter Renfrow and Diontae Johnson, McLaurin has a case for being the best of the bunch.
He is an elite road runner, with big hands and the ability to win against media coverage with his outing on the line. It has sufficient gust and speed, allowing it to gain below on its mid lanes and above. He also showed his ability to create for himself after capture.
Without McLaurin, Washington finds itself with a rookie wide receiver in Jahan Dotson, an oft-injured Curtis Samuel and a bunch of unproven weapons behind those guys. McLaurin is an essential and very important piece of attacking success in 2022.
In particular, his presence is paramount for newly acquired quarterback Carson Wentz. With contract talks lingering, his lack of presence at team facilities caused Wentz and McLaurin to lose value in building a relationship with each other.
Washington is a team that operates like it’s in “win now” mode. They’ve traded for a veteran quarterback, drafted seniors who plan to play right away, and signed low-cost free agents who fill key roles.
Their direction so far is correct. They need win this year. Football and organization business needs a successful 2022 season.
So Washington slowing down a contract negotiation with arguably its best player doesn’t make sense. They run the risk of frustrating one of their proven stars, while hurting their newly acquired quarterback in the process.
Commanders have nothing to gain by leaving contract extension talks with McLaurin. linger. Simply put: COs need to extend Terry McLaurin.
Not only is McLaurin important for the football team, but he is also important for the brand change, the fan base and the credibility of the coaching staff’s overall vision. Ron Rivera being the pseudo-GM, he has to make a statement with the McLaurin extension.
He already did that with Jonathan Allen the last offseason. He has to do it again. Terry McLaurin deserves an award for his value to the entire organization. It is the negotiation process that commanders must succeed in.