The Washington Commanders have a big-time decision on their hands when it comes to the upcoming contract of Terry McLaurin. Entering his fourth season, McLaurin has played well beyond his 3rd-round status as a wideout in Washington and looks to become one of the few wide receivers in Washington’s storied history to put together three straight 1,000 receiving yard seasons.
As we stand here today, Terry isn’t attending Washington’s voluntary OTA’s and likely will not participate in team activities up until the Commanders start training camp before heading into the preseason.
He’s slated to become a free agent after this season, with no deal between the two parties set in stone just yet. We’re approaching the June 1st date that’ll bring Washington at least an added $11.9 million dollars in cap space after the release of former S/LB Landon Collins, both McLaurin and the Commanders front office still have time to work out a deal before their 2021-22 season begins.
Washington has the money to spend, and McLaurin is their best player, so this should end in a happy marriage. But, the NFL doesn’t ever seem to work out in ways that make sense to us all.
There is a chance that Washington doesn’t bite on offering “Scary Terry” a contract that puts him among the elite in his position in terms of AAV, and there’s also a chance that McLaurin will look to reset the market and ask for upwards of $24-million per season at least if he’s signing on the dotted line before entering free agency next season.
Regardless, let’s take a look at whether or not Terry McLaurin is worth this level of extension, and whether or not the numbers back up if McLaurin has already peaked as a player.
Contract Projection: Five years, $115-million, $53-million total guaranteed.
Has Terry McLaurin peaked?
Contracts in the NFL aren’t based on what you’ve done for your team in the past, primarily. As the old saying goes, it’s a “What have you done for me lately?” Or “You need to update your resume” kind of league. As we stand here today, Terry McLaurin has done a lot for the Commanders. With back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons and a rookie campaign that would have cracked him into the 1,000-yard mark if it wasn’t for injury, I don’t believe you could have realistically asked for a better third-round selection if you’re the Washington franchise. You could argue, that you would like his production to better match the 125+ targets that he’s seen over the last two seasons, or that you’d hope that he could open up his route running ability on third-level throws, but this is nitpicking at its finest.
McLaurin looks to have not peaked whatsoever as we enter his age-27 season, as the 6’ Wideout embodies everything that you want from your modern WR1. If you’re looking for production, he’s averaging 74 catches, 1,030 yards, and 5 touchdowns per season for the Commanders. He flat out does it all for you, if you need someone with sure hands, he’s got it, with a drop percentage over the last two seasons of just 2.9%.
Need someone that can win in contested catch situations? That’s McLaurin, as he’s put together a contested-catch rate of 52.7% and nearly 50 contested catches throughout his three seasons in the NFL, standing at just 6-feet-tall.
What about someone that can create in space after the catch? With 4.39 speed, McLaurin has tallied over 1,000 yards after the catch throughout his career.
What about his playstyle? Well, McLaurin wins the way you want to in the modern NFL. He’s a polished and dynamic route runner, with the ability to win and create separation at every level of the field. In addition, he’s remained one of Washington’s best non-offensive-lineman blockers, something that was highly discussed when he entered the league, and lastly, he’s shown the ability to produce despite what’s been around and opposite of him.
We haven’t even touched on other aspects of his game that don’t show up necessarily on raw box scores like the tape of his route-running ability, his elite deep and intermediate statistics in terms of production and efficiency, or the fact that he’s the fifth wide receiver in team history to have back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons, a feat he accomplished last season.
Nonetheless, McLaurin’s game has continuously improved, he’s been as consistent as they come, and his game is predicated on things that age well as you head into the bulk of your prime in addition to the later stages of that prime period. If you’re worried about McLaurin “peaking” as a player, there’s a big reason why you shouldn’t give that much thought.
Why Terry McLaurin is worth the $115-million extension:
Everything I mentioned in the previous section is all fine and dandy but let’s add some context. What makes this even more impressive is the fact that Terry McLaurin has completed and showcased these things, and continues to improve and maintain this level of play, despite never having a starting-caliber quarterback play under center. Everyone likes to discuss how these great wide receivers in the NFL today can put up phenomenal statistics individually. It’s no secret that you need someone to throw you the football if you are a wide receiver. But I’d argue, that there aren’t five wide receivers in the NFL that could have produced the way Terry McLaurin has produced if the circumstances were the same. Meaning, put any non-top five wide receivers on Washington and switch places with McLaurin, and I guarantee you the production, the leadership, and the consistent output week in and week out would not be replicated.
In it’s raw form, let’s look at the EPA of McLaurin’s QB’s since arriving in the DMV. On average, out of Quarterback’s that have played at least 200 snaps, McLaurin’s signal-callers rank 32nd out of 38 on a year-to-year basis. McLaurin is special, you don’t see players that are able to maintain this level of efficiency, production, and leadership, despite having well below-average quarterback play tossing him the football on any given Sunday.
Mind you, he hasn’t had the benefit that some other wide receivers have had, where they have guys that can win at the second and third level, therefore it opens up the field and the offense overall so your offensive coordinator can scheme up touches for you, or your teammates can open up opposing defenses so you can find yourself open more often than without them.
To put it simply, this has been the McLaurin show for the Washington offense over the last three seasons and he’s shown the ability to keep them at minimum, afloat. At a dependent position like wide receiver, it’s remarkable that he’s been able to have this level of impact, despite never having competence surround him consistently.
Paying Terry McLaurin the projected contract of five years, $115-million, makes all of the sense in the world if you’re the Washington Commanders. The $53-million guaranteed would place him around the price range of Keenan Allen and A.J. Brown, but his $23-million AAV would place him 6th in the NFL on a per-year salary basis. With all of those numbers in front of you, it’s a must for the Commanders to keep Terry McLaurin around for the long haul. He’s the kind of player that will continue to improve with age, like a fine wine, he’s somebody that’s as consistent as they come no matter who is under center, and he’s been the professional that an organization like this one, desperately needed.
This is just the start, though. He’s doing this, with a lackluster offensive unit around him, no definitive answer at Quarterback, and a plethora of unproven teammates in his position group. Just imagine what it will look like once your unit begins to shape up the way you’d hope for.
Nobody embodies the culture you’re trying to create more than #17 in Burgundy and Gold does. Leadership, skill, consistency, effort, production, if the Commanders want to keep their best player around, their star on and off the field, not only do you keep the man, but you pay the man.
How will the Terry McLaurin contract saga end?
This poll is closed
McLaurin signs new deal worth $20+ million per year
McLaurin is traded before the season starts
McLaurin is franchise tagged next year
McLaurin isn't signed or tagged after next season