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Washington Commanders gain sense of stability with Terry McLaurin extension

For a while this offseason, it seemed as if Washington Commanders star wide receiver Terry McLaurin would join others in leaving the organization on a sour note.

We’ve seen it a multitude of times in the past. From Kirk Cousins to Trent Williams, star players in Washington leaving on less-than-stellar terms.

That’s when everything change in late June with the stud wide receiver inking a massive three-year deal worth up to $71 million.

For the Commanders, it wasn’t simply about bringing back their most-talented skill-position player. Rather, it was about changing the news cycle in the nation’s capital at a time when owner Daniel Snyder is under fire from every direction. The presence of big-name defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio in said news cycle didn’t help, either.

All of that gave in to optimism as the Commanders and McLaurin held a press conference on Wednesday to officially announce his extension. These negative bites turned into a full-throated support of what head coach Ron Rivera is attempting to build in Washington. That is to say, a culture vastly different than the one that has defined Snyder’s oftentimes ugly tenure as Washington’s owner.

“Talking to my agent, to the conversations I’ve had with coach Rivera. It was very evident that they wanted me to be here and I wanted to be here.”

Washington Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin to reporters (July 6, 2022)

Washington brought on Rivera, a respected former player and coach, back in 2020. The idea was obvious. After so many seasons of wasting away under unviable head coaches and with the front office in disarray, he was going to calm the storm.

Due to Washington’s ownership issues, a somewhat controversial name change and struggles on the field, that has not been the case yet. But the McLaurin extension gives this team some hope.

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Washington Commanders get continuity with Terry McLaurin contract extension

washington commanders' terry mclaurin
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Running with the recently-acquired Carson Wentz as their QB1 in 2022, the Commanders simply couldn’t afford McLaurin to sit out training camp or threaten a holdout into the season.

He’s been far too important for the team since Washington made the Ohio State product a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Terry McLaurin stats (2019-21): 222 receptions, 3,090 yards, 16 TD 62% catch rate

At just 26, we are talking about a receiver who is averaging over 1,000 yards per season in his young career. If Washington wasn’t going to up the ante for someone of this ilk, what type of confidence would the fan base have in it retaining other core young players?

“He’s an organizational signing. It impacts not just the football side but the business side. It tells people we want to retain young men of this stature; we want young men of this magnitude out there representing our organization.”

Washington Commanders’ Ron RIvera on Terry McLaurin contract extension, via ESPN

That’s the crux of it for Washington. Retaining a core young player while looking to the immediate future and long-term was key for a rejuvenated Commanders front office.

It tells us that respected team president Jason Wright is in this to change the culture despite the issues of the higher-ups within the organization. Both Wright and Rivera have talked about this culture change ad nauseam since they took over in their current roles. We’re finally seeing it pay off.

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On the field, this move changes the dynamics in a big way. Wentz heads to the nation’s capital after struggling over the past two seasons. He’s seen as a borderline starting quarterback.

Having McLaurin in the mix to go with stud young running back Antonio Gibson will work in Wentz’s favor. It’s now up to the quarterback to prove that he can be part of that culture change within the Washington Commanders’ organization.