After extending McLaurin, Washington 'not done' making moves


As Ron Rivera took the podium on Wednesday to introduce Terry McLaurin -- who just signed a three-year extension worth up to $71 million -- the head coach wasted no time mentioning how important it was for the organization to get the wideout's new deal done.

"It’s one of those things as a football coach to be able to have players that fit what you're trying to do and understand, and really kind of see the vision that you have. And with Terry that's somebody that we believe we have," Rivera said. "And because of that, getting him done we felt was one of the things that we felt had to be a priority for us."

Yet, before McLaurin even had the chance to step up to the microphone, Rivera made another noteworthy comment, hinting that McLaurin's new deal is the first of more to come.

"[There are] still a couple other guys that we want to get taken care of because we really do believe in who they are," Rivera said. "In some situations, some cases, they're going to be playing into their last year, but it doesn't mean they're not wanted."

So, which players might Rivera and his staff be looking to extend next?

"You've got to look at the defensive side," Rivera told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay. "... Look at where we are. What do we have to do with the defensive line? What're the next moves there? Linebacker, adding some depth, probably. Looking at the defensive backs and feeling good, confident about that group. There is still some work to do. We're not where we want to be in terms of that yet."


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The Commanders used four straight first-round picks on defensive linemen from 2017-2020, but only one of them is signed long-term. That would be standout Jonathan Allen, who inked a four-year extension with Washington just before training camp last summer. 

Daron Payne, Washington's first-round selection in 2018, is set to enter the fifth and final year of his rookie deal. Unless he's extended, Payne will enter unrestricted free agency next spring. There's a chance Payne could be the odd man out from the Commanders' defensive line, as both edge rushers Montez Sweat and Chase Young have the chance to command lucrative extensions in the foreseeable future.

Rivera reiterated multiple times on Wednesday just how much of a priority it was for Washington to get McLaurin's deal done. The head coach called it an "organization signing" and said he hopes it sends a message to the rest of the roster about retaining its core players. 

"When you're able to keep the leadership, guys that really help set the tone and tempo for you, that's important," Rivera said. "Last year we were able to do that when we got it done with Jon [Allen] and Logan [Thomas], and now Terry. We try to retain our own pieces."

The Commanders didn't hide that getting McLaurin's extension finalized was a big need this offseason. Now that it's done, it could open the door for Payne or other players on Washington's roster to land new contracts.

Payne isn't the only player on Washington's defense who could seek a new contract soon, either. Sweat and Young both could command new deals as soon as next year. Safety Kamren Curl will likely want a new, long-term deal after this season, too. Middle linebacker Cole Holcomb, who has been heavily endorsed by the Commanders' brass this offseason, is entering the final year of his rookie contract, too.

"We're not done just yet," Rivera said. "There are some guys that, because of the way we have to try and plan, map this out, we're not able to do now but we're hoping to do soon in the future at some point, or hopefully early next year. So, we'll see. We're not done yet."

The NFL is a business and the reality is the Commanders won't be able to keep everyone. But with the extensions of Allen, Thomas and now McLaurin, all within the past year, are a positive sign that shows the organization's willingness to take care of its own.


"It does take a little bit of a process," Rivera said. "But hopefully it sends the right kind of message to our players, that it's about trying to retain as many of you guys as we can going forward."