It has been rare lately for a day to go by without some sort of connection between the Commanders and the Panthers. Thanks to Ron Rivera's move from one franchise to the other, his subsequent strategy of bringing ex-Carolina players and staff to Washington, and the pipeline recently proving that it works both ways, the pair of organizations are tied closely.
Which is why it makes sense that the contract extension that DJ Moore signed last week looks like a perfect point of comparison for a potential deal for Terry McLaurin.
Of all the wideouts who've caught new agreements this month — from Davante Adams to Mike Williams to... yeah, this Christian Kirk-Jaguars partnership remains confusing — Moore is the one with the most in common with McLaurin. In fact, the crossover between the two is honestly striking.
Before getting to what Moore is now getting from the Panthers, let's line him and McLaurin up side by side on the field.
Moore — who entered the NFL a year ahead of McLaurin — has hauled in 87, 66 and 93 balls over the past three campaigns for 1,175, 1,193 and 1,157 yards. During that span, he scored four, four and four touchdowns and missed a total of two games.
McLaurin's production is close, albeit a tad weaker, than Moore's across that three-season stretch. Washington's top target has snared 58, 87 and 77 passes for 919, 1,118 and 1,053 yards, making seven, four and five end zone visits while missing three contests.
To make those stats easier to process, here they are combined for each player:
- Moore since 2019: 246 receptions... 3,525 yards... 12 touchdowns
- McLaurin since 2019: 222 receptions... 3,090 yards... 16 touchdowns
Now, Commanders followers are (correctly) quick to point out that McLaurin's numbers have been compiled despite the presence of lackluster quarterbacks. Working with signal callers like Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Alex Smith, Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen is not anyone's idea of football paradise.
Moore, however, can say the exact same thing about his career.
So far, he's shared a huddle with a semi-broken down Cam Newton, Teddy Bridgewater, P.J. Walker, Sam Darnold and a fully-broken down Cam Newton. He and McLaurin can even commiserate about their shared experiences with Allen, who started 13 times in Carolina with Moore.
With the uncanny amount of overlap between Moore and McLaurin now established, it's time to get into the money.
Moore was slated to suit up in 2022 on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract with the Panthers and then hit free agency, but the team chose to extend him last Friday to keep him in their uniform for far longer. His extension is for three seasons and worth nearly $62 million, with $41.6 million of that guaranteed.
In all, the 24-year-old is linked to the NFC South squad for the next four seasons for $73 million, which comes out to an average annual value of $18.25 million. That makes him the eighth-highest paid receiver in the sport.
McLaurin, meanwhile, is also entering the last stage of his initial pact with Washington (since he was a third-round choice in 2019, there is no fifth-year option for him, which is why he and Moore would've been a part of the same free agent class even with Moore turning pro earlier). And as Ron Rivera has already indicated, the Commanders intend to keep McLaurin on their sidelines.
It won't be as easy as copy-and-pasting the details of Moore's deal and presenting that to McLaurin, because these sorts of negotiations are never that easy.
Maybe McLaurin is less inclined than Moore to stick around, or perhaps he's going to be more forceful and demand compensation closer to the absurd cash Adams landed after being traded to the Raiders because many players want their contract to reset the market.
At the very least, though, the Commanders should probably present McLaurin with an offer that closely resembles the one Moore accepted — if not a tick better, just to be amenable — meaning one that has an average annual hovering around $20 million with two-thirds of it guaranteed.
Something like this sounds totally reasonable: A four-year extension that would begin in 2023 worth up to $90 million ($60 million guaranteed).
Once that's added onto his 2022 salary, the whole agreement would be for five seasons, $92.8 million and an average annual value of $18.56 million, which would slot him in as the seventh-highest paid wide receiver and, importantly, ahead of Moore (and Kirk, too).
From there, the back and forth will commence, and we can all see if the similarities between Moore and McLaurin continue in the form of an approved extension — or differ with a sharp rejection.