McLaurin's absence looms large at start of Commanders OTAs

Terry McLaurin vs. Eagles

ASHBURN -- The Washington Commanders had near-perfect attendance for the team's first session of on-field work during Organized Team Activities on Tuesday, as only four players on the active roster were not in Ashburn. However, one of the players missing for the Burgundy and Gold stood out among the rest.

Star wide receiver Terry McLaurin was not present for on-field OTA workouts on Tuesday as his camp and the Commanders continue to work towards a long-term deal. The 26-year-old is entering the final year of his rookie contract and is due for a large payday, especially considering a receiver market that has boomed over the past few months.

Throughout the negotiation process, Ron Rivera has said multiple times Washington's desire is to keep its star receiver around long-term. The head coach reiterated those thoughts once again on Tuesday and remains confident the two sides will work out a deal, even as McLaurin's original plan to show up but not participate in on-field work has turned into a full-blown holdout.

"Terry, obviously, we're working through with his contract," Rivera said, declining to get into the specifics of those conversations. "We've had communication with him. We're working with him. Just a matter of time."


As McLaurin and his team continue to go through contract negotiations with the Commanders, the rising fourth-year receiver has a teammate he can lean on throughout the process. That would be defensive tackle Jonathan Allen, who spent months negotiating with Washington on a potential extension last summer before eventually agreeing to a four-year, $72 million deal just before training camp began last July.

Allen said on Tuesday that he's spoken with McLaurin throughout the process and is doing his best to help his teammate as much as he can.

"It's tough. Everyone says 'Don't take it personal.' But your whole life is about to change. It's a very personal experience," Allen said. "I see it from both sides, the organization side and the players' side. I'm always going to side with the player because I'm a player. But I'm sure they're going to handle it the right way."

Last year during OTAs, there was a point where Allen's negotiations with Washington went sideways. The defensive tackle decided to skip a week of practice as a result and even sat down with Rivera to have what he called "hard conversations." It took time, but the two sides were able to work to a resolution that resulted in Allen being under contract for four more years.

Signing that long-term deal allowed Allen to focus on football without having to worry about his future. He rewarded Washington in 2021 with the best season of his pro career, a campaign that earned him Pro Bowl honors. The defensive tackle hopes the end result will be the same with McLaurin.

"Terry is a guy you want to build a team around. He represents everything we want to build around here," Allen said. "I'm confident we'll get something done."

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Despite McLaurin's absence from OTAs, he still has plenty of support from his teammates. Both receiver Curtis Samuel and running back Antonio Gibson said they understand McLaurin has business to take care of and that whenever No. 17 does return to the team, he'll be welcomed with open arms.

"That's just something he's got to take care of," Samuel said. "I'm looking forward to whenever he comes back and [I'm] wishing the best for him."

"A team guy, but you know, when he's here, he's here," Gibson added. "He's a great teammate, so I support him."

McLaurin is set to hit free agency next spring. If McLaurin - who's been extremely productive in each of his three seasons despite playing alongside below average QBs - feels he can earn more money in the open market than what Washington is offering, there's little incentive for him to agree to a long-term deal for less money with the Commanders now.


"At the end of the day, he's got to handle his business. I understand that," Allen said. "We're trying to build a lot of great things here, but he has to do what's best for him first and foremost. We get that, we understand that. We all know what kind of guy Terry is. We understand that there are going to be some tough negotiations. It is what it is. It's just the business."