Terry McLaurin is on the hunt for a new contract. And the Commanders’ top wide receiver is signaling he’s willing to dip into the star players’ playbook for hardball negotiation tactics, if that’s what it takes.
McLaurin, according to multiple reports, will not participate in Washington’s voluntary on-field workouts this spring — a tactic increasingly used by marquee players seeking new deals. Washington’s offseason program started Monday, and McLaurin was not there — though reports indicate the wideout is expected to arrive on Tuesday.
Still, McLaurin reportedly plans to skip on-field workouts when those begin next month.
For now, players are only allowed to work on strength and conditioning before the league shifts into individual drills and other limited on-field work.
According to ESPN, which first reported the news, McLaurin still plans on reporting because of the 26-year-old’s status as a team leader.
But he won’t participate in the on-field workouts. Other wideouts from the 2019 draft class — San Francisco’s Deebo Samuel and Tennessee’s A.J. Brown — are taking a similar tack. Samuel and Brown are also vying for new deals.
Commanders coach Ron Rivera has expressed interest in getting a long-term deal done for McLaurin, but has not put a timeline on the talks. McLaurin, a former third-rounder out of Ohio State, will be in the last year of his contract next fall and is set to make about $2.8 million.
“Terry is somebody that we most certainly do want to make sure we get something worked out going forward,” Rivera said after the season.
Last year, Washington agreed to extensions with defensive tackle Jonathan Allen and tight end Logan Thomas just prior to training camp. Allen, in particular, has been brought up often as a comparison for McLaurin. Allen was a high-profile player who was set to enter the last year of his deal before signing a big four-year, $72 million contract.
McLaurin’s decision to scale back his participation in Washington’s offseason workouts is notable in part because Rivera has repeatedly stressed the importance of getting full participation from players this spring. Last season, pass rusher Chase Young skipped the voluntary sessions in part to film commercials — a move that lead to criticism from fans later after Young’s slow start.
Rivera said last month he hoped the team’s disappointing 7-10 record in 2021 sent a message to players that “just showing up is not good enough.”
Complicating matters, the wideout market has exploded this offseason as a number of high-profile stars have inked new market-setting contracts.
Davante Adams signed a five-year, $140 million contract upon his trade from the Green Bay Packers to the Las Vegas Raiders. The Dolphins then topped that in terms of annual value by giving former Kansas City Chief Tyreek Hill a four-year, $120 million deal. Weeks later, the Buffalo Bills also gave Stefon Diggs a four-year, $104 million extension with $70 million guaranteed.
Outside the top tier of stars like Adams and HIll, the numbers are still eye-popping. The Jacksonville Jaguars gave Christian Kirk a four-year, $72 million deal — $18 million per year. There are nine receivers making north of $20 million per year, according to Over The Cap.
The price of McLaurin’s next contract could also be impacted by other deals yet to be made among the 2019 receiver class. Like Washington with McLaurin, Tennesse and San Francisco are trying to lock down Brown and Samuel to long-term deals. Seattle also has said it plans to extend star wideout D.K. Metcalf, another member of the 2019 class.
Since entering the league, McLaurin has led the Commanders in receiving yards — posting back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons over the last two years. He ranks 14th league-wide in receiving yards since 2019 and second among receivers from his draft class.
“Terry’s been great,” general manager Martin Mayhew said. “He’s been a face of the program type of guy for us. Been very good in the community and a good teammate. … He’s important to us.”
• Matthew Paras can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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