Terry McLaurin

Commanders’ Jayden Daniels Likely To Open Season As Starting QB?

The Commanders naturally expected QB Jayden Daniels, the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft, to become their starting signal-caller sooner rather than later. While Washington acquired veteran Marcus Mariota in free agency as a potential bridge option, Daniels seemingly has a firm grasp on the top spot on the depth chart.

As Fox Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano writes, Daniels appears “entrenched” as the Commanders’ starting quaterback. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner took most of the first-team reps during last week’s mandatory minicamp, and Vacchiano says there has been no indication that will change when training camp opens next month.

New GM Adam Peters zeroed in on Daniels as soon as he began to watch the rookie’s college game tape, and Daniels has lived up to the hype during the Commanders’ offseason work. Per Vacchiano, Daniels had an “outstanding spring,” and both his passing ability and running ability were on full display.

Daniels’ work ethic was one of the attributes that sold Peters on the former LSU passer, and head coach Dan Quinn and Pro Bowl wideout Terry McLaurin both cited that work ethic when discussing Daniels with the media.

“Not only does the physical traits show up, its the work ethic,” Quinn said. “I think that through the years and through the season, you guys will feel that and see that.”

“He’s going to be a really good player because of the time and the work that he puts in,” McLaurin added. “I don’t think I’ve had a young quarterback that really has come in and, within the first week, he’s like, ‘Hey, can we (work on) this route?’ or, ‘Let me get this rep after practice?’ It’s exciting for me.”

To be clear, Quinn said no decisions have been made about who the starting quarterback will be (via ESPN’s John Keim). Vacchiano, though, believes that regardless of what Quinn says publicly, the job is Daniels’ to lose, and the team does not expect him to lose it. Indeed, as Quinn himself said (via Keim), “he’s further along than you probably should be. … He really has a very firm handle on the things that we’re doing, but he also has the humility of a young player … knowing he has a lot to prove.”

Daniels, who recently put pen to paper on his four-year, $37.75MM rookie contract, said, “I ain’t a star quarterback yet. … I still got a long way to go to be where I want to be. (I) try to perfect it, try to be a perfectionist as much as possible.”

Apparently, he will get plenty of opportunity to perfect his craft with the first-team offense when training camp rolls around, and at this point, it would be a surprise if he is not under center on Week 1.

Commanders Add WR Jamison Crowder To Active Roster

SEPTEMBER 11: After playing in the Commanders’ Week 1 win and operating as their punt returner, Crowder will remain in the fold moving forward. The veteran has been signed to the team’s 53-man roster, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.

SEPTEMBER 6: Crowder is indeed coming back to Washington. The former Jay Gruden-era pass catcher will join Rivera’s team on a practice squad deal.

SEPTEMBER 5: Although many teams released vested veterans upon cutting their rosters down to 53 and then brought them back — via an active-roster deal after an IR move took place elsewhere on the roster or via a practice squad invite — soon after. The Giants did not prioritize Jamison Crowder after cutting him, however.

Even as Wan’Dale Robinson finishes up his recovery from an ACL tear and Cole Beasley battles an injury that led to him going on the practice squad injured list, the Giants did not bring back Crowder. Back in free agency, Crowder is beginning to receive interest. The Commanders brought in Crowder for a Tuesday visit, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

Crowder, of course, began his career in Washington. Plenty has changed since — from the staff to the quarterback to the team name — but the Ron RiveraMartin Mayhew regime is interested in the 30-year-old slot receiver. Crowder is coming off an abbreviated season, when a fractured ankle stopped his Bills campaign after four games. But the 5-foot-9 wideout was previously a productive player with Washington and the Jets, compiling 600-plus yards in five seasons since being a 2015 fourth-round pick.

Beginning his career as the inside option in Kirk Cousins-led attacks, Crowder rose in the team’s pass-game pecking order after the free agency exits of Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson in 2017. Crowder led the 2017 Washington edition in receiving, though his career-high yardage total remains the 847 — to go with a career-best seven TD receptions — he totaled in 2016 alongside Jackson and Garcon. The Jets gave Crowder a three-year, $28.5MM contract in 2019.

Sam Darnold‘s steadiest target, Crowder combined to score 12 TDs during the former No. 3 overall pick’s final two Jets seasons. The Jets reduced Crowder’s pay in 2021, upon hiring Robert Saleh and OC Mike LaFleur, and he averaged a career-worst 8.8 yards per reception in Zach Wilson‘s rookie season. Crowder joined the Bills on a one-year, $2MM deal and only received $28K guaranteed from the Giants this offseason.

The Commanders have a key injury issue at receiver entering the season. Terry McLaurin has rested for over a week now with turf toe. The longtime No. 1 target, who arrived a month after Crowder left, is uncertain for Week 1. Washington has used extensive resources in recent years upgrading McLaurin’s supporting cast, using a first-round pick on Jahan Dotson in 2022 — a year after giving Curtis Samuel a three-year, $34.5MM deal. In addition to the three starters, the Commanders have four more receivers rostered. Ex-Eric Bieniemy Chiefs cog Byron Pringle joins 2021 third-rounder Dyami Brown, 2021 seventh-rounder Dax Milne and rookie UDFA Mitchell Tinsley at the position.

McLaurin is not out of the mix for Week 1 just yet, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post, who notes the team has hope for its top target to be ready in time.

WR Notes: Watson, Metchie, Chark, McLaurin, Smith-Njigba

Jordan Love‘s tenure as the Packers‘ full-time starting quarterback will have a bit of a hurdle to navigate this week. In his first start since November 2021, Love will be without the team’s top returning receiver Christian Watson, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.

Watson is dealing with a hamstring injury that could potentially lead to an extended absence. Head coach Matt LaFleur claimed that he doesn’t think Watson will reach a three- or four-week absence but classified the second-year wideout as week-to-week.

The top target in Watson’s absence, fellow sophomore receiver Romeo Doubs, is also dealing with a hamstring injury but is only listed as questionable heading into the weekend. Rookie wideout Dontayvion Wicks is the third such receiver on the team dealing with a hamstring injury, but he managed to avoid the injury report altogether. Star tackle David Bakhtiari is also available after staying off the injury report.

Here are a few more reports on wide receiver injuries from around the league heading into Week 1:

  • The world will have to continue to wait for the NFL debut of Texans wide receiver John Metchie III, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC2. Despite making a recovery from both a torn ACL and leukemia, Metchie is still dealing with a nagging hamstring injury. Houston is being patient, taking a “big-picture approach” to Metchie’s return. The team will be without safety Jimmie Ward and linebacker Blake Cashman for Week 1, as well.
  • The Panthers are slowly working their way back to full health in their receiving corps, according to Panthers writer Augusta Stone. Back ups Terrace Marshall and Ihmir Smith-Marsette are now fully participating in practice after recent injury trouble. Starters Adam Thielen and D.J. Chark Jr. both returned to practice today in a limited capacity. While Thielen was listed as questionable and could still play, Chark has been ruled out for the team’s season opener.
  • The Commanders drew lots of criticism when leading receiver Terry McLaurin sustained an injury as the team played its starters fairly deep into a preseason game in an effort to end the Ravens’ preseason win streak. They’ll dodge a bullet, though, as McLaurin will be active this week after making good progress from his turf toe injury, according to Commanders senior writer Zach Selby. He’s had a couple of full participation practices and should be good to go for Week 1. Defensive end Chase Young has been listed as questionable, though. Head coach Ron Rivera claimed that “if (Young’s) cleared, he’ll go.”
  • Despite undergoing wrist surgery just two and a half weeks ago, Seahawks rookie first round pick Jaxon Smith-Njigba is expected to play in the team’s season opener against the Rams this Sunday, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Head coach Pete Carroll, who was optimistic on the recovery timeline, confirmed as much this week.

NFC East Notes: Commanders, Kearse, Giants

Battling a turf toe issue sustained Monday night, Terry McLaurin will not need surgery. But an extended rest period is underway. This hiatus has the top Commanders skill-position talent uncertain to be ready by Week 1, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Jeremy Fowler (Twitter links). McLaurin has not missed a game due to injury since 2020. The Commanders have made some big investments at wide receiver since starting McLaurin’s tenure off with little around him. Curtis Samuel is going into the final season of his three-year, $34.5MM contract, and the team has first-rounder Jahan Dotson going into his second season. But McLaurin has been one of the NFL’s best receivers, totaling his third straight 1,000-yard season months after signing a three-year, $69.6MM extension.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

Notable 2023 Pro Bowl Incentives

The NFL announced their 2023 Pro Bowl rosters this evening. Besides the ability to list the accolade on their career resume (plus the monetary bonus that comes from participating in and winning the game), many players had a financial incentive for wanting a Pro Bowl nod. We’ve collected some of the notable Pro Bowl contract incentives below, most via ESPN’s Field Yates on Twitter (unless noted).

Geno Smith‘s contract bonus came via a specific incentive that required not only Pro Bowl recognition but 20 touchdown passes, according to Yates (on Twitter). Smith hit that TD mark back in Week 13. The impending free agent is set to cash in following a breakout campaign during his age-32 season.

Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard has a more complex bonus worked into his contract. According to CBS Sports’ Joel Corry (on Twitter), Howard is one step closer to earning a $1MM bonus thanks to his Pro Bowl nod, but he’ll also need Miami to improve in either wins, points allowed, TDs allowed, total defense, interceptions, average net yards allowed per rushing play, or turnover margin.

Speaking of the Dolphins, the organization saved a chunk of future money since one of their players didn’t make the Pro Bowl roster. As Daniel Oyefusi of the Miami Herald tweets, Tua Tagovailoa‘s fifth-year option would have increased from $22MM to $28MM if he earned a Pro Bowl nod.

5 Key Stories: 6/26/22 – 7/3/22

Even in the quietest part of the offseason, there were still some significant developments around the NFL. Here’s a quick rundown of the week’s top headlines:

  • Watson Hearing Concludes: The top offseason storyline in the league reached another critical stage, as the hearing presided over by Sue Robinson concluded after three days. Her decision on whether Browns QB Deshaun Watson will be suspended – and if so, for how long – will be the next step in this process, and could be delayed by a matter of weeks. Any appeals process (which would be administered by commissioner Roger Goodell or his appointee) would then follow, and have drastic consequences on Watson, the Browns and, given the precedent it could set, any players who find themselves in a similar situation in the future.
  • McLaurin Signs Extension With Commanders: The offseason was building towards Terry McLaurin signing a lucrative extension in Washington, and he did just that by inking a three-year deal. The pact carries an average annual value of $23.3MM, and includes a signing bonus of $28MM. With the new contract in hand, McLaurin will see significant guaranteed money, while still being eligible for another significant deal at the age of 30.
  • Mayfield Dispels Talk Of Browns Reconciliation: With a Watson suspension looming, many have pointed to Baker Mayfield as the Browns’ best QB option in 2022. He remains on the roster, as trade talks have sputtered throughout the offseason, but the fences between himself and the team still aren’t likely to be mended. “I think it’s pretty obvious the mutual decision on both sides is to move on,” he said, when asked about the possibility of rescinding his trade request to play out the final year of his contract in Cleveland. Finding a trade partner could still remain challenging for the team, though.
  • 49ers Nearing Samuel Extension?: With McLaurin (and fellow 2019 draftee A.J. Brown) having signed big-money extensions, attention will turn even more so to the 49ers and Deebo Samuel. It was reported that, as trade talk cools around the highly-productive ‘wide-back,’ the team is “expected to continue working toward” a new deal with Samuel. In that event, he could find himself under contract by training camp later this month, presumably joining the $20MM-per-year WR club as many others have already done this offseason along the way.
  • Texans Facing First Watson Suit: The civil litigation filed against Watson has been well-documented, and, even after 20 of those suits were settled, will remain a significant storyline into, quite possibly, next offseason. Another development related his case, though, was the news that the first lawsuit related to his conduct while with the Texans was filed against the franchise itself. A statement from plaintiff’s attorney Tony Buzbee suggested that many others could follow, claiming that “the overwhelming evidence collected indicating that the Houston Texans enabled Watson’s behavior is incredibly damning.”

NFC West Rumors: 49ers, Cardinals, Metcalf

Not long ago, we wrote about the 49ers’ cornerback depth chart, claiming Charvarius Ward and Emmanuel Moseley were the starting outside corners this spring with Darqueze Dennard and rookie fifth-round pick Samuel Womack competing for the the starting nickel cornerback job, while second-year defender Ambry Thomas slots in as the No. 3 corner on the outside.

A slight alternative to the starting scenarios was proposed earlier this week by Cam Inman of The San Jose Mercury News. He agrees that Dennard and Womack seem to be going head-to-head for the nickel-back role, but posits that, should neither cornerback seize the starting opportunity, San Francisco could formulate a rotation that would see Moseley shift inside and Thomas come in to cover the outside.

If Dennard and Womack can’t convince the coaches that they’re more valuable to have on the field than Thomas, the above situation could unfold. It makes sense that the 49ers would want the best three defenders on the field and could utilize other cornerback combinations to take advantage of specific matchups.

Here are a couple of other rumors from out of the NFC West, starting with a note out of Glendale:

  • A little over two weeks ago, the Cardinals signed two former Chiefs’ defenders in cornerback Josh Jackson and linebacker Ben Niemann. The two have had diametrically contradicting career paths with the former second-round pick, Jackson, slowly falling into obscurity while the former undrafted free agent, Niemann has earned more and more responsibility each year he’s been in the league. Both of their contracts, though, will be worth the league minimum, according to Sports Illustrated’s Howard Balzer. While that’s a hard pill to swallow for Jackson after the high expectations that came with his draft position, Niemann is likely grateful to be heading into his fifth year of NFL football for the second team to give him an opportunity after initially going undrafted.
  • Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf has been pushing the organization for a new contract lately. The 24-year-old is set to head into the last year of his rookie contract and, while he does want to get paid, he’s also providing the Seahawks a head start on the rest of the league on what would be his eventual free agency. While Metcalf is looking at recent deals like that of his former college teammate, A.J. Brown, the absolute floor of Metcalf’s hypothetical extension was set this week when the Commanders extended star receiver Terry McLaurin, Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus writes. Kyed justifies the opinion, saying that, while PFF grades Metcalf slightly lower than McLaurin, Metcalf is over two years younger and has produced at a slightly higher level than McLaurin over their first three years in the league. Whether or not Metcalf undoubtedly deserves more than McLaurin, McLaurin’s new deal sets an intriguing bar as extension talks continue in Seattle.

Commanders, WR Terry McLaurin Agree On Extension

Amid an explosive offseason at the wide receiver position, another major domino is falling. The Commanders and Terry McLaurin agreed to terms on a three-year extension Tuesday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

Washington is giving its top target a contract worth up to $71MM, Schefter notes, with a receiver-high $28MM signing bonus (Twitter link). In terms of average annual value, the Commanders went to $23.3MM for the fourth-year standout, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

The Commanders are guaranteeing 76.4% of the contract, per Schefter, giving the Ohio State alum long-term security and the chance to cash in again in the not-too-distant future. While McLaurin will be protected against injury, the signing bonus represents most of his full guarantee. This deal includes $34.6MM guaranteed at signing Rapoport tweets. That figure ranks just 14th among wideouts, but Washington will add to that total with $12.5MM more becoming guaranteed in March 2023.

A lengthy negotiation that included McLaurin stepping away from the team’s offseason activities for weeks — headlined by a minicamp absence — keyed a resolution. This conclusion will certainly have a significant effect on the rapidly shifting wideout market. AAV-wise, McLaurin, 26, becomes the NFL’s seventh-highest-paid receiver. But the former third-round pick’s deal creates a clear divide between No. 7 and No. 8 (D.J. Moore, who signed a $20.6MM-per-year deal earlier this offseason). Considering McLaurin, Moore and Mike Williams (also extended at $20MM AAV this year) each have no Pro Bowl invites on their respective resumes, McLaurin scoring this deal represents a win.

By agreeing to a three-year accord, McLaurin will be signed through the 2025 season. He will turn 30 that year. Should the Commanders want to continue with McLaurin for the late 2020s, he could have the back end of his prime to factor into those prospective negotiations. For now, however, another of the 2019 receiver draftees has scored a big payday. Deebo Samuel, D.K. Metcalf and Diontae Johnson will be interested observers. Samuel and Metcalf figure to target A.J. Brown‘s Eagles deal (four years, $100MM), but McLaurin’s re-up figures to be of particular interest to Johnson’s camp.

Talks during the minicamp McLaurin missed failed to produce a deal, and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter) the two parties backed off for a bit. Tuesday represented the breakthrough. Ron Rivera expressed optimism for a 2022 McLaurin deal on multiple occasions this offseason, and the third-year Commanders HC added that the team would not trade its premier aerial threat. Rivera and GM Martin Mayhew stuck to those guns and have an intriguing receiver duo for the long haul. Both McLaurin and first-round wideout Jahan Dotson are signed through 2025. Dotson can be kept through 2026 on a fifth-year option.

Washington did not receive much from Curtis Samuel last season, with injuries interrupting the former Buckeye’s D.C. debut. But the ex-Panther is tied to a hefty contract as well — three years, $34.5MM. The McLaurin and Samuel contracts, along with the team’s Dotson investment, represent a lofty commitment to the receiver position ahead of Carson Wentz‘s first Washington season. Wentz’s set of Washington weaponry certainly appears to outflank, depth-wise, the troops he played with in Indianapolis. Given the injury problems the Eagles dealt with at receiver during the latter half of Wentz’s Philadelphia tenure, Washington’s seemingly well-rounded trio provides an interesting opportunity for the 29-year-old passer.

Through three McLaurin seasons, Washington struggled to assemble complementary help for its No. 1 weapon. But the 6-foot target kept producing. McLaurin has averaged more yards per game than Metcalf over the course of his career (67.2) and is riding back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. McLaurin doing so with a host of quarterbacks — from college teammate Dwayne Haskins to a near-the-end Alex Smith to Taylor Heinicke — should give the Commanders confidence the production will continue with Wentz.

Commanders Ramping Up Efforts To Extend Terry McLaurin

Ron Rivera continues to say the right things regarding a Terry McLaurin long-term future in Washington. The third-year Washington HC expressed optimism on a deal coming to pass and added the Commanders are not planning to trade their No. 1 wide receiver.

The team may be moving forward in this process. The Commanders are intensifying their efforts to extend McLaurin, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com noted during a Monday appearance on Get Up, adding the team is aiming to have a deal done by training camp. Since McLaurin skipped minicamp, talks sparked to the point the Commanders are “upping their proposals,” Fowler adds (via Bleacher Report).

Although the team keeps pushing, its efforts have not swayed the fourth-year wideout. The Commanders attempted to hammer out a deal last week, Fowler added (via NBC Sports Washington’s Ethan Cadeaux, on Twitter), with the hopes of even getting him to minicamp. McLaurin’s side did not budge, and no deal is imminent.

This contract may be trickier than the $25MM-per-year agreement the Eagles reached with A.J. Brown, though that pact certainly will not help the Commanders. McLaurin does not yet have a Pro Bowl invite, separating him from Brown, Deebo Samuel and D.K. Metcalf. But he does have three 900-plus-yard receiving seasons and has averaged more receiving yards per game (67.2) than Metcalf (64.7). McLaurin, 26, is undoubtedly pushing for an accord north of $20MM per year, as fellow zero-time Pro Bowlers Mike Williams and D.J. Moore scored this offseason.

A McLaurin deal would help create a price range for Samuel, Metcalf and Diontae Johnson, though it is not certain if the latter — who has yet to be offered an extension — is on the Steelers’ second-contract radar. With Christian Kirk having scored an $18MM-AAV deal in March, Washington will need to be prepared to pay more than $20MM on average. McLaurin has not just led Washington in receiving over the past three seasons; he has done so by wide margins. The most notable gap came in 2021, when McLaurin’s 1,053 yards were 656 better than the team’s second-most productive pass catcher.

Rivera: Commanders Will Not Trade Terry McLaurin

The Terry McLaurin situation in Washington has escalated to the point the fourth-year wide receiver is not at the team’s minicamp. McLaurin’s absence, along with the rapidly rising receiver market, has led Ron Rivera to continue addressing this rather key topic.

After previously indicating optimism for an extension to be completed this year, Rivera took it a step further Wednesday afternoon (via NBC Sports Washington’s Peter Hailey) by indicating the Commanders will not be pushed to trade McLaurin. Extension talks are ongoing here.

We’re not trading Terry,” Rivera said, via NBC Sports Washington’s Peter Hailey. “We’ve been talking with his folks probably the last week and we’re working on some stuff. 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.”

Trades have been a frequent topic during this historically potent wideout offseason. Trade-and-extension sequences involving Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill reset the receiver market, leading to the glut of fourth-year players to take notice. This preceded the Titans — after beginning negotiations with A.J. Brown this offseason and both Mike Vrabel and Jon Robinson indicating Brown would be a long-term Tennessee weapon — trading their No. 1 receiver to the Eagles on draft night.

Even before Brown was dealt, Deebo Samuel requested a trade out of San Francisco. D.K. Metcalf trade rumors swirled ahead of the draft as well, and the Seahawks’ fourth-year pass catcher stayed away from his team’s minicamp. McLaurin has not been connected to being moved. Rivera attempting to stop any rumors in their tracks makes sense, though other coaches and GMs ensured their top wideouts would not be dealt — only to see trades transpire soon after. Brown is now tied to a $25MM-per-year contract that includes a receiver-most $56MM fully guaranteed. McLaurin, 26, should not be expected to top that. But the former third-round pick should be expected to eclipse $20MM per year — a range the Titans did not enter during Brown talks — on his next deal.

Washington has McLaurin under contract through 2022; the 2023 franchise tag option would loom if no extension happens before March. Teams have used the tag to keep No. 1 or No. 2 receivers off the market fairly frequently in recent years. Beyond Adams and Chris Godwin this year, the Bears (Allen Robinson), Bengals (A.J. Green) and Dolphins (Jarvis Landry) have cuffed wideouts over the past five offseasons. The 2019 receiver class could populate next year’s tag ledger, with Samuel, Metcalf, McLaurin and Diontae Johnson unsigned.

The Commanders have gone through significant tag drama in recent years as well. The previous regime famously tagged Kirk Cousins twice before losing him in free agency. Rivera’s regime tagged Brandon Scherff twice. No deal came to fruition this year, and the perennial Pro Bowl guard signed with the Jaguars. Washington’s McLaurin situation is far away from this stage now, but past examples show where these situations can lead.