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Terry McLaurin, not Amari Cooper, was PFF's most valuable WR in the NFC East last season

Terry McLaurin, not Amari Cooper, was PFF's most valuable WR in the NFC East last season

In his first full season with the Dallas Cowboys in 2019, wide receiver Amari Cooper cemented himself as one of the NFL's premier receivers. The former Alabama standout finished with 79 receptions for 1,189 yards, which was the seventh-highest mark in the league a year ago, and only six other pass-catchers had more receiving TDs than him.

Yet, according to one advanced statistic by Pro Football Focus, Cooper wasn't even the most valuable wide receiver in his own division. That title would belong to Washington Redskins wideout Terry McLaurin.

Sure, you're probably wondering how PFF was able to evaluate that. Well, the site used the WAR (wins above replacement) metric to calculate the overall value of each player. McLaurin boasted a 0.6 PFF WAR mark in 2019, which was the best of any wideout in the division.

"Terry McLaurin was the most valuable wide receiver in the NFC East last season, and there's a reason," PFF's George Chahrouri said on the PFF Forecast. "This guy can go downfield. He can catch and run with it. He was the highest-graded rookie last year, better than [Tennessee Titans WR] A.J. Brown."

The Cowboys' SB Nation blog, 'Blogging the Boys,' seemed to take the distinction to heart.

To be fair, Cooper did post better numbers than McLaurin in almost every major receiving category. However, the Cowboys pass-catcher was gifted more targets and additionally had the benefit of playing with quarterback Dak Prescott, who was one of the league's best passers in 2019.

As a rookie in Washington, McLaurin was forced into the No. 1 wideout role immediately. He answered the bell and excelled right away, totaling five-plus receptions and a TD in each of his first three NFL games. This was all despite having a constant revolving door at quarterback, playing with three different passers under center in 2019.

In just 14 games, the third-round pick finished with 58 catches for 919 yards, just eight yards shy of breaking the franchise's rookie receiving record. McLaurin's seven receiving touchdowns accounted for almost half of Washington's scores via the passing game, too.

RELATED: PFF RANKS MCLAURIN AS NFL'S THIRD-BEST ROOKIE 

With second-year passer Dwayne Haskins set to be Washington's quarterback in 2020, Chahrouri envisions McLaurin making an even bigger jump this season.

"Terry McLaurin is going to be one of the best wide receivers in the NFL," Chahrouri said.

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Dwayne Haskins believes he gives Washington best chance to win, even if Alex Smith can play

Dwayne Haskins believes he gives Washington best chance to win, even if Alex Smith can play

While many expect Dwayne Haskins to be Washington's quarterback in Week 1, head coach Ron Rivera has yet to formally name a starting quarterback and has preached "pure competition" between Haskins and Kyle Allen.

The battle for the job has the potential to take an interesting twist in the coming weeks if veteran Alex Smith is able to return from the active/PUP list. In a media session with local reporters on Monday, Rivera said Smith is "going to be in the throes of this competition" if he's able to return.

However, even if Smith is healthy enough to compete for the starting job, Haskins believes he's the best man for the job. 

"All respect for everyone in that room, but I feel like I give us the best opportunity," Haskins told Julie Donaldson, Washington's Senior VP of Media and Content. "I look forward to showing it."

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Haskins had his growing pains as a rookie but really started to show flashes of his potential towards the end of the season before an ankle injury prematurely ended his first season as a pro. Over his final six quarters, Haskins finished with 394 passing yards on a 72 percent completion rate with four touchdowns and zero turnovers. 

Since Rivera took over as head coach in January, he's challenged Haskins to take command of the job, and the quarterback has responded. Haskins has dropped close to 20 pounds this offseason and said he is in the best shape of his life. He's spent the bulk of his offseason training and learning from numerous NFL stars, most notably Deshaun Watson, Cam Newton and Odell Beckham Jr.

Although Rivera has yet to name Haskins the starter, he's taken notice of the 23-year-old's progress and has publicly praised him for it. In a media session last week, several comments the head coach made sounded as if he was ready to move in the direction with Haskins as QB1.

While Haskins and Smith may be directly competing with one another, the two have a strong relationship.

Haskins has said multiple times how much of a help Smith was to him as a rookie. On Monday, Haskins said he looks at Smith as a "mentor" to him.

"He's a great teammate," Haskins said. "Somebody in the meeting room that we look for answers and questions and everything he's been through in his long tenure as a professional quarterback in the NFL. He's someone I kind of look to as a mentor in that sense."

RELATED: MORGAN MOSES IS IMPRESSED WITH DWAYNE HASKINS 'KNOWING HE'S GOING TO BE NO. 1 QB'

Smith's journey is remarkable, and the fact that he's even close to playing after suffering the gruesome leg injury he had in November 2018 is already impressive enough within itself. And of the three quarterbacks, Smith is by far the most proven and experienced.

But Washington is currently in a rebuild, and Rivera has said multiple times that the 2020 season will be crucial in determining who he sees as core players on his roster. So, starting a 35-year-old Smith over Haskins, a second-year player who the team invested a first-round pick in just one year ago, wouldn't make much sense.

Yet, if Smith does end up being healthy enough to compete for the job, Haskins is ready to embrace the challenge.

"I'm extremely happy and excited for Alex. Having watched him train last year and him just getting into the position to try and play this year...I can tell how much work he's put in," Haskins said. "I'm excited for him. Hopefully he gets back to where he needs to be, and I look forward to competing with him and everything of that nature."

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Dan Snyder's attorney raises conspiracy questions with defamation suit

Dan Snyder's attorney raises conspiracy questions with defamation suit

Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder wants to clear the air about a series of slanderous rumors that his attorney believes were part of a wider campaign to spread misinformation and defame his character. 

"There's a lot of things going on in Washington right now regarding the club and there are people that may have some motives to falsely attack Mr. Snyder," attorney Joe Tacopina, who represents Snyder, said in an interview with NBC Sports Washington. 

The center of the issue comes from an article that ran on meaww.com - a website owned by India-based company Media Entertainment Arts WorldWide - alleging Snyder had personal involvement with financier Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender who killed himself while in prison last year. 

"Dan Snyder has nothing to do with [Epstein] and had nothing to do with him," Tacopina said of the article. 

That article, shared repeatedly via social media, deeply bothered the Snyder family and now the owner wants to do everything in his power to clear his name. 

In the process, Tacopina alleges that a former employee was spreading the disinformation at the behest of a financial backer. Snyder is taking legal action against former Washington employee Mary Ellen Blair in an attempt to prove she intentionally spread lies and was told to do so by a third party. 

"We believe there are obviously people behind that had their own purposes for doing it," Tacopina said. The lawsuits aim to "to uncover who’s behind the scenes, who’s pulling the strings."

RELATED: DAN SNYDER FILES TWO DEFAMATION LAWSUITS

In a New York Times report, Blair is connected to Dwight Schar, one of the Washington minority owners looking to sell his shares in the team. The article contends that Blair dealt with financial hardships and lives in a building that Schar's daughter's real estate development company owns.

Asked if the misinformation and defamation lawsuits have anything to do with Washington's minority partners looking to sell 40 percent of the team, Tacopina would not speculate, but he did respond. 

"I think common sense will sort of play out. I think the evidence in this case will present us with who’s behind this," Tacopina said. 

Tacopina has an impressive and high-profile legal track record. He worked with Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill to end his decade-long legal saga and multiple jail visits. He also lists Alex Rodriguez and Jay-Z as clients. 

This looks to be just the beginning of a series of legal actions that could unclose a significant conspiracy against the Washington Football Team owner. Then again, it could be nothing. The legal process will play out.

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