McLaurin deal serves as reminder Washington can still be a winner originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Nobody knows if Ron Rivera will win a Super Bowl in Washington. In fact, oddsmakers probably doubt it.
Heck, nobody knows if Ron Rivera will even win a playoff game in Washington.
On his third team in three years, nobody knows what Carson Wentz will do this fall. If the vagabond quarterback finds a home in Washington or if this is just a quick stop on his weird passer odyssey, again, nobody knows for sure.
Nobody – absolutely nobody – knows what will happen on Capitol Hill at any time, let alone in the House Oversight Committee’s ongoing investigation into Commanders’ owner Dan Snyder.
A new stadium? Good luck.
Right now it seems like nobody even wants to build a new one, let alone pay for a new one, and guessing if, when or where a new stadium might land is a fool’s errand of the highest capacity.
The NFL is about unknowns, and the Commanders organization has more than most.
Tuesday afternoon, however, provided a glimpse of hope. A dash of certainty in a sea of speculation.
After months of rumors and reports the Commanders got a contract extension done with star wide receiver Terry McLaurin. A three-year add on to his current (underpaid) rookie deal means McLaurin will be under contract in D.C. until at least the end of the 2025 season.
Getting this deal done was the obvious move.
McLaurin is worth the money. In three seasons he’s gone for more than 3,000 receiving yards with 16 touchdowns, and that’s not his only value. He’s a team captain and a tireless worker. He’s posted big games and impressive stats despite catching passes from eight different QBs in three seasons. Some receivers don’t catch passes from that many quarterbacks in their entire career.
What’s more, in another two years this contract will probably look like a bargain
That’s the nature of contract extensions in the NFL, where the salary cap and the cost of doing business are always on the rise, even outpacing 2022 inflation at the gas pump. And it’s that very nature that previous iterations of Commanders brass didn’t understand.
Regardless of the team name, the Washington organization has largely botched football business for the last two decades. This is not pertaining to selling tickets or over-priced hot dogs, that’s been bad too, we’re talking the actual decision-making on player contracts. For nearly every laughably large free-agent contract given out, there was a good player developed in-house that walked out the door.
Then there was the franchise track record in taking care of good, young players. The guys the team actually drafted and developed.
That track record stunk.
For an organization that has been unable to find a franchise quarterback for most of the last 40 years, this team sure did everything possible to chase a decent one out of town. Sure Kirk Cousins wanted out by late in his Washington tenure, but that was only after the organization low-balled him and set forth down the franchise tag highway to hell.
The team performed much of the same ritual with Brandon Scherff, the only All-Pro player the Commanders organization can boast in this millennium. Scherff now plays in Jacksonville.
Still, Cousins had nothing to do with the current Washington staff and the die was long cast with Scherff before Rivera and crew had much of an opportunity to change course.
That hardly matters anymore, because now for two consecutive offseasons, Washington has taken care of its top priorities.
Last year, that was a contract extension with Jonathan Allen just before training camp opened.
This year, that was a contract extension with McLaurin. And even with a month to spare before camp opens.
To his credit, Rivera exuded quiet confidence throughout McLaurin’s offseason holdout that a deal would get done.
“We’re feeling pretty good and pretty confident that at some point this will get done,” Rivera said on June 15th.
“We understand what Terry is trying to do, we want him here, he’s going to be here,” Rivera said on June 14th.
Notice a theme?
The old organizational playbook would have been to leak negative stories about the player asking for too much or not being worth the market positional rate. None of that happened this time with McLaurin or last year with Allen.
Quiet confidence, and players notice.
“I think when a guy like Terry gets paid, it really gives you a restored faith in the team that you reward guys for doing it the right way,” defensive tackle Jonathan Allen said Tuesday via Grant and Danny on 106.7 The Fan.
As much as the Commanders organization – and particularly previous iterations – get clowned nationally, the McLaurin move got nothing but flowers.
The point here isn’t to dismiss the serious allegations leveled against ownership, or even to condone recent missteps by the business operations.
This isn’t flattery, it’s reality, that the actual football operation is conducting business as it should be done. Quiet and competent.
Getting deals done for Allen and McLaurin in subsequent offseasons were obvious moves, but in Ashburn in the past, even the obvious moves got missed.
There are real questions to be asked about the football operation – just how did the defense fall back 20 slots in points allowed last season??? – but at its core, there are real football people making decisions.
Perhaps it’s a low bar but Martin Mayhew built the best Detroit Lions teams of the last 25 years while serving as GM. He got the Lions — THE LIONS — to the playoffs.
Rivera has been working in the NFL in some capacity for nearly 40 years. He knows how the league works, and when a deal needs to get done.
Look around the rest of the Commanders front office, and there are experienced, accomplished evaluators and administrators. They may not be great, maybe they are, but there’s no denying professionals are in charge.
There hasn’t been a ton of good news in Commander land of late. Getting a deal done with Terry McLaurin is nothing but good news.
Perhaps more importantly, it’s an invaluable reminder to haggard Commanders fans that the action on the field is soon coming, and maybe this team can field a winner this fall.