By Adam Aniba
The latest update with the Terry McLaurin contract extension, has created a familiar and uneasy feeling amongst the fanbase. Training Camp is right around the corner, but early reports are Washington's best player might not be in attendance duirng the mandatory sessions.
Although Ron Rivera and the team could fine McLaurin for everyday missed during mandatory minicamp, it's unlikely. The former 3rd rounder is currently playing on the last year of his rookie day, carrying a $3.04 million cap hit. Saying that the former OSU receiver has outplayed his rookie contract, would be an understatement.
The top 5 NFL wide receivers are currently making between $25 - $30 million annually with Tyreek Hill leading the way. Recently acquired Eagles receiver A.J. Brown, signed a $100 million extension that pays him $25 million annually with $56.4 million fully guaranteed. Many of these contracts also have a voidable last year on the deal, making the guarantees imperative.
Brown and Mclaurin both came into the league in '19 and their stats through 3 seasons, speak volumes to their success and how similar they are statistically. Brown has registered 185 receptions for 2,995 receiving yards, 24 TDs, 16.2 yards per reception and averaged 69.7 yards per game. McLaurin, who was selected two rounds later than Brown, posted 222 receptions for 3,090 receiving yards, 16 TDs, 13.9 yards per reception and averaged 67.2 yards per game through three seasons.
Durability and availability are also factors, when commiting longterm to any player viewed as a franchise cornerstone. Mclaurin has played in 46 career games, compared to Brown's 36. Also notable is the instability surrounding the quarterback position in Washington and despite the lack of a franchise signal caller, McLaurin has produced at a high level.
SIgning McLaurin to a deal similar, if not mirroring Brown's seems like a no brainer. Although Brown is a game changer, McLaurin is the face of the Commanders franchise and is a bigger big play threat. Despite some chatter in the local media/national media, the acquisition of Carson Wentz along with his $28.2 million '22 cap hit, should have little bearing on an impending McLaurin deal.
The percentage of cap dedicated to the defensive side of the ball has been extremely lopsided, until Wentz' contract hit the books. Having the face of the franchise and most consistent producer, skipping mandatory training camp would be bad look for Washington. It's no time to be cheap, especially for franchise looking to simultaneously clean up their image during a rebrand and produce a consistent winner on the field. In 2 seasons, Brown's deal will likely not even rank in the top ten at the position, so today's overpay, could be tomorrow's bargain.
Similar to the Jonathan Allen extension signed on the eve of training camp in '21, a new deal could be announced around the same time. A deal identical to Brown's should be the blueprint. Unfortunately, as Washington fans, we've seen this movie before with Kirk Cousins and most recently Brandon Scherff. This team can no longer do business like this and expect to have any hope for success. The Commanders cannot afford another franchise tag debacle, if they hope to build up their fanbase and potentially bring some of their disgruntled and fed up fans.