Rivera sees McLaurin deal as key in fixing Commanders' reputation originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Ron Rivera has often touched on the idea of keeping Terry McLaurin long-term this offseason — it’s perhaps the most critical on-field storyline for the Commanders aside from Carson Wentz‘s fit — but on Wednesday, Rivera delivered what felt like his strongest endorsement to date about the star receiver’s future in Washington.
“We intend to do this because we believe in who Terry is for us and what he can bring to the table,” Rivera said after the club’s second minicamp practice of the week.
Rivera also bluntly rejected the notion of shipping McLaurin away for a bounty of resources, which can sometimes become a consideration if two sides believe a resolution is unlikely.
“We’re not trading Terry,” he said.
McLaurin, unfortunately, wasn’t at the facility to provide his insight into how contract discussions are going, because he’s skipping minicamp just like he skipped voluntary OTAs. The 26-year-old is heading into the final year of his rookie deal and is seeking a new pact that’s equitable to the immense production he’s generated with the franchise.
But Rivera certainly came across as a coach who’s relatively sure that his offense will be featuring McLaurin’s talents in 2022 and beyond, even though McLaurin has been the lone Commander to not show in all of May and June.
“To give you guys a little tidbit, we’ve been talking with his folks probably the last week and we’re working on some stuff,” Rivera said. “Hopefully, it’ll be taken care of in a matter of time. How much time? Don’t know. But it’s never contentious, I can promise you that. We’re feeling pretty good and pretty confident that this’ll get done.”
As for whether McLaurin will be subject to fines for missing this particular round of summer action, which is deemed mandatory, Rivera simply stated that the 2019 third-rounder will be “subject to the rules and we’ll go from there.”
On Tuesday, a couple of McLaurin’s teammates expressed support for Washington’s top pass catcher in sessions with the media.
“Obviously, Terry is a guy who’s been here and has done it the right way,” Jonathan Allen said. “He’s a guy that you want to build a culture around.”
“Terry’s a great dude, a great player, a great kid, a great person — a person I care about a lot,” Logan Thomas said. “Do your thing, Terry. You get what you deserve. The time will come, whether it’s this year, next year or whenever the time comes, he’ll get what he deserves.”
With that in mind, Rivera would like to extend McLaurin not just to reward McLaurin, but to additionally show other members of the organization that they, too, will get rewarded if they perform similarly.
“I think that’s important,” Rivera explained. “When a player like this does make the impact he’s made, and not just on the football team but around the community and everything, you have to be able to take care of that guy so everybody understands this is the type of player that we want.”
If McLaurin were present, one conversation that could be held with him would center around his level of commitment to the Commanders. How much interest does he have in continuing to suit up with a squad that’s paired him with a cavalcade of quarterbacks, hasn’t won consistently in a couple of decades and is perpetually mired in controversy?
Without McLaurin around, Rivera was the one asked about that piece of the situation.
“We’re trying to get people to understand that we’re not the past,” he answered. “If we can get guys like Terry to come here and play for us and have success, have success with Carson, then all of the sudden people are going to say, ‘Wait a minute, you can do it here. Absolutely.’ And that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to create that type of atmosphere.”
So, Washington has a grasp on how valuable McLaurin is, how necessary it is to set the standard with his potential contract and how there’s a reputation about its team that requires changing. Based off of all that, this extension ought to be coming. Yet until the ink is dry and the money is spent, a slight uneasiness will remain.