We now have a fair framework for DK Metcalf's contract extension
Seaside Joe 1210: Terry McLaurin's new contract will be the endgame deal for Seahawks, Metcalf
Terry McLaurin is an awesome player who would be a lot more football famous if he didn’t play for a team that didn’t even have a name until this year. Despite all the forces conspiring against his efforts to be recognized as one of the all-around great receivers in the NFL today (Jay Gruden fired during his rookie campaign, the Ron Rivera style of offense, eight different starting quarterbacks, no Robin to sidekick him as Batman), McLaurin still stands out as a top-10 receiver if you are willing to look hard enough.
The problem is that not even I am willing to watch the Washington Commanders play football unless I have to—plays like this one make McLaurin a “have to watch” type of wide receiver:
After being the 76th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and the 12th at his position off the board behind some of the best (Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, DK Metcalf) and worst (N’Keal Harry, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Andy Isabella, Jalen Hurd) selections of the class, McLaurin immediately stood out as a steal among his peers.
He had 919 yards and seven touchdowns in only 14 games as a rookie. Then 87 catches for 1,118 yards in 15 games in year two. And finally over his first full season, McLaurin caught 77 passes for 1,053 yard sand five touchdowns while tasked with catching all of his passes from Taylor Heinicke and being quite literally the only threat that opposing defenses had to focus on week in and week out; number two receiver Adam Humphries had 383 yards and zero touchdowns on 62 targets.
If you think that McLaurin is “just an okay receiver” then you are flat out wrong and that’s okay. It’s not your fault. As I wrote in the intro, that’s the nature of McLaurin’s position as the top player on a team that has rolled out Alex Smith, Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, and Colt McCoy at quarterback and on a mediocre team that is lucky to have played two primetime games per season.
Where else would you get all your “Terry McLaurin intel” other than fantasy football, a field that he would be dominating if he were to get better opportunities than the ones he’s received thus far in Washington.
Now with Carson Wentz set to take over as the ninth starting quarterback of his career, McLaurin could have been contemplating how a change of scenery in the next year or two would boost his national profile, his resume as an elite player, and his chances of reaching the Super Bowl at some point in his career. Instead, he will be contemplating how to spend $71 million.
Which should now settle in as basically the same amount that DK Metcalf will soon sign for with the Seattle Seahawks.
On Tuesday, it was announced that McLaurin is signing a three-year, $71 million contract extension to stay with the Commanders for the bulk of his prime years as an NFL receiver. The deal makes sense for both sides and as I’ve been writing all offseason with regards to what a Metcalf extension will look like, this is basically a dart in the middle of a dartboard.
These estimates are not even hard to do anymore thanks to the existence of OvertheCap.com.
Prior to signing his contract, McLaurin has been on the wrong end of a raw deal, earning only ~$2.8 million for his first three seasons. To put that in perspective, his contract APY is SIXTH AMONG WRs ON HIS OWN TEAM behind the likes of Curtis Samuel, Dyami Brown, Alex Erickson, Cam Sims, and Jahan Dotson.
Players drafted in the last two years (Brown, Dotson) were already guaranteed more money than McLaurin, one of the best Washington draft picks of my lifetime.
Consider this from McLaurin’s perspective: You’re turning 27 in September, you have given out your services on the field for pennies on the dollar of what you deserve, and if you didn’t sign the new contract then you will have earned only $5.8 million over four years in the NFL. If you get injured, you might not get a dollar more than that. If you play really well, then the Commanders will at least franchise tag you and hold your rights for another year, twisting your arm until you eventually bite the bullet and re-sign for what they’re offering you anyway.
By signing this new contract, McLaurin very well opens up the door to play out his entire three-year extension and earn $71 million on top of the $5.8 million he’s already made.
That means that McLaurin can either choose to sign for $71 MILLION or bet on himself and hope that if he stays healthy and dominates again that Washington or some other team (like in the case of Davante Adams) will what… offer him $78 million?
From Washington’s perspective, they could either ignore McLaurin’s situation and hope that he plays out his year and does well without getting injured, in which case the Commanders are going to try and extend him again in 2023 anyway.
The team benefits because they resolve any potential issues that could arise from negotiations with McLaurin or other players in the future. The player benefits because he gets exponentially more money in one day than he’s ever seen in his entire life. The risk of walking away from $71 million is far too great for most people to avoid the inevitable and the only position that seems to have any leverage in these matters is quarterback.
It would make sense these days for a quarterback to feel comfortable knowing that one injury probably doesn’t end his career. It didn’t end Dak Prescott’s career or his chances of a huge payday. A torn ACL didn’t end Tom Brady’s career in 2008… he’s played another 13 SEASONS since then without any other injury-related pauses.
But wide receivers are often being phased out of the league before they turn 30 and in their cases it could be one injury that ends it all. McLaurin entered the NFL at the age of 23, so he was already behind some of his peers in that regard, including Metcalf.
I still think that their situations are so similar that within the next six weeks or so, DK Metcalf will sign a three-year contract extension with the Seahawks at an amount that is so similar to $71 million that it won’t really matter if we’re haggling over a million or two.
Because DK Metcalf is in the same situation as Terry McLaurin in one way that will outweigh every other factor: He is a fantastic player who has only made $3 million over his first three seasons. He’s been a bargain for three seasons and if he bets on himself, he will make another $4 million in base salary for 2022 and nothing more.
At this point, Seattle now approaches DK Metcalf and says, “We now have a contract for a player who is neck-and-neck with you in career catches and yards, he is also a day two pick from the 2019 draft, and he might even skyrocket to the next level if Wentz is healthy for the entire year.”
The Seahawks might also subtly mention that Seattle’s probable downgrade at quarterback over the next 1-2 years could potentially mean that this is Metcalf striking while the iron is still hot.
“Y’know, we love you, but what if you only get 850 yards with Geno Smith?”
You don’t think a player can sink his value with bad quarterback play, even if he was a dominant 21-year-old wide receiver? Ask JuJu Smith-Schuster about that.
But the Seahawks also want to keep Metcalf and they have no reason not to. Anytime that Seattle has ever wanted to keep a player past his rookie contract in the Pete Carroll era, they’ve done it. And when you’ve seen certain young players “get away”, it’s not without some plan and usually (Byron Maxwell, for example) we can eventually see why the Seahawks were comfortable not overpaying him.
The Seahawks have few other players to pay beyond 2023 and Metcalf’s contract fits perfectly into the plans for 2023-2025. Those should also be the years that Seattle is focused on with his extension and McLaurin’s $71 million payday is exactly what the Seahawks should be offering. If Metcalf and his agent are determined to do some nominal “step up” for public facing purposes, then so be it, who cares if it is $71 million or $72 million?
But that’s truly all it is. A nominal change for a headline.
And DK Metcalf will accept it because the choice is to either bet on himself with Geno Smith and Drew Lock as the new quarterbacks OR to sign a deal that turns him from a $4-millionaire to a $71-millionaire overnight.
The Seahawks-Metcalf contract extension has been inevitable since the first days in 2019 when it became apparent that the NFL indeed screwed up that draft evaluation. The NFL makes sure of that with every new CBA, ensuring that teams will usually have the upper hand in most negotiations. Because the draft payscale is so screwed up, rewarding players for how they are as PROSPECTS instead of how they do as PLAYERS, DK Metcalf is left with a choice that isn’t so difficult.
Ask for $75 million. Take $72.5 million. Go back to work so that when you are outplaying your contract again in 2024, you can begin to work on your next negotiation for another raise.
Really great write-up. You've helped me understand these contract negotiations. The media mostly fails to educate us, so caught up in the desire for attention. So we get a distorted view of things. Your website is well worth the price of admission so I'm sure that, with time, you'll reach your subscription goals.
As for McLaurin, I've followed him since the 2019 draft and think very highly of him. After that first season, I felt he might be the best bargain at WR that year. That said, I'd rather have Metcalf because of his youth. WR careers are so short. Also, Metcalf's measurables are off the charts. Just incredible size and speed. Combine that with his work ethic, his drive to be the best and his intelligence, and I could not be more pleased.
I could see the Hawks paying DK a bit more than McLaurin because of those factors and the desire for him to feel satisfied with his contract. But I agree that it's not going to be a whole lot more. Maybe they go $75M.
AJ Brown is the receiver from that class who, in my view, is best and he went in the middle of the second round. But he was gone by the time Seattle chose DK. Metcalf has improved a ton -- particularly his route running -- and still has some work to do. Primarily his hands, which are not great. I'm hoping this is the year he'll learn to catch everything he should catch.
I liked 'Football Club'. It puts the emphasis on the city. I've often wished there was some sort of reduction of salary cap hit for players who have lived in the area for which they play.