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Terry McLaurin
Washington Commanders

Washington Must Worry About Terry McLaurin Eventually Wanting Out

  • Ryan Fowler
  • January 6, 2022
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For nearly three decades, the quarterback carousel has continued to turn in Washington, growing in occupants as the seasons have churned on. From Josh Johnson to failed first-rounder Dwayne Haskins to Case Keenum and current starter Taylor Heinicke, Washington has failed to expend the necessary assets to add a competent starter at the sport's most important position since the turn of the century. While burgundy and gold faithful have continued to cling onto past memories of Robert Griffin III lighting up the Dallas Cowboys for three first-half touchdowns on Thanksgiving or Kirk Cousins captaining the way to a division title, 2022 marks a decade since both quarterbacks were selected, and years of limited offensive punch have, expectedly, followed since their departures. With limited punch in the backfield, and an offensive line that has seen its fair share of shuffling following the loss of Trent Williams, Washington’s offense failed to provide a face fans could rally around. Then came the 2019 draft class, and, specifically, the selection of Terry McLaurin in the third round. Looked upon as a prospect out of school that could fill the WR3 role who’d compete his tail off as a special teams ace—like he did during his time at Ohio State—McLaurin has been everything and much, much more as the do-it-all target, and WR1, within Washington’s substandard passing game. A lone wolf as an impactful presence each and every Sunday, McLaurin has found himself on an island when it comes to perimeter production in the nation’s capital. Like, Tom Hanks in the film ‘Castaway’ alone. While Ron Rivera attempted to add pop on the outside in both the free agency window via Curtis Samuel and the 2021 draft in third-rounder Dyami Brown, both have been completely irrelevant throughout Washington’s 6-10 campaign, combining for just 18 catches in 16 games. For McLaurin, the presumed help out wide was a long overdue helping hand as he prepared for his third campaign this past summer. The most productive pass-catcher in Washington’s franchise history in a player’s first three seasons, a look toward his future in D.C. with limited help under center and talent opposite him that has failed to live up to expectations have presented a scenario that could result in McLaurin playing elsewhere in the near future. For No. 17, the proof is in the pudding. Need a guy to win on a nine-ball? Throw it to McLaurin. Need a contested catch on a high-leverage down? Throw it to McLaurin. Need a guy to take it 70 yards to the house on a tunnel screen? You guessed it, throw it to McLaurin. One of the league’s top wideouts who receives little credit due to the lack of team success since his arrival, his numbers truly don’t paint the picture for just how impactful he is on Sundays. With Heinicke, Haskins, and Kyle Allen, McLaurin has slowly had to change the way in which he goes about his business as a true three-level threat against opposing defenses. https://twitter.com/FowlerRyan1/status/1477814397112303617 Week 17 against the Philadelphia Eagles saw McLaurin’s shallowest depth of routes so far this season. He failed to catch one ball 10 or more yards downfield and was primarily used as a horizontal threat in the Scott Turner-led offense. While it’s an understandable game plan considering the lack of arm talent from Heinicke, de facto musical chairs of bodies up front, and the aforementioned vacancy of talent in the receivers room, it’s just not who McLaurin is and it would be difficult to justify him feeling satisfied working within an offense, and with an array quarterbacks, that have consistently failed to hit him in stride and drive balls into his chest, ultimately allowing his game to further bloom into the truly elite perimeter talent he’s proven to be. My message to Rivera? Help No. 17 out and shorten the performance leash with acquisitions the team has made with prior relationships. An organization that has failed to find a proficient, tenured starter since Mark Rypien in the early 1990s, the upcoming offseason should see acquisitions made on the offensive side of the ball with McLaurin at the forefront of their plans. If not, one of the franchise’s most headlining talents over the last 20 years could soon see himself donning different threads.

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Ryan Fowler