Ron Rivera Believes New Terry McLaurin Contract ‘A Matter Of Time’

The Washington Commanders had four notable absences from their first OTA session of the offseason on Tuesday:

Defensive end Chase Young was absent.

Defensive end Montez Sweat was absent.

Wide receiver Cam Sims was absent.

And wide receiver Terry McLaurin was absent.

Rivera, confident that sharing information with reporters this time of year is not going to crash the franchise, explained to the media why each of those players were not with the team.

“Well, I know as far as Montez is concerned, he had personal thing he was taking care of,” Rivera said. “We expect him back [Wednesday].

“Chase for the most part is working with his rehab. He has met with the doctors; they formulated a plan. He’s completing that right now. We will have him here eventually and I believe in the next couple weeks he’ll be here.

“And Cam had a personal thing, family. I think he’s having a baby. So, he’s excused as far as that’s concerned.”

Defensive tackle Darron Payne was present for practice but walked off the field and did not return reportedly because of his frustration over his contract talks. Not great.

And what about McLaurin, arguably the team’s best offensive player? Why wasn’t he at the club’s training facility where he hasn’t been seen since April?

“Terry, obviously, we’re working through with his contract,” Rivera said. “I’m not gonna get into specifics about that. We’ve had communications with them. We’ve been working with them. It’s just a matter of time.”

And just like that the Commanders are telling us a lot about that situation even as Rivera believes he’s not getting into specifics.

No. 1: The sides are talking.

No. 2: There is work going on, which basically means negotiations — a significant step beyond merely talking where sides agree what has to happen but don’t necessarily exchange proposals. Exchanging proposals is work.

No. 3: Rivera is confident this is going to get done.

That’s a lot of good news for all parties involved even as reports have persisted that there are snags in the process.

Rivera’s answer suggests a turn of fortune in this situation because the Commanders have chosen to be very deliberate (slow) in signing McLaurin, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. That pace has cost the team money.

Although Washington clearly budgeted for McLaurin’s new deal this offseason, waiting this long has allowed the receiver market to boom as multiple receivers got monstrous extensions.

Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, Mike Williams, Christian Kirk and others all got new deals or extensions this offseason. And those have raised the price of doing business with a veteran wide receiver to between $18 million to $30 million per year.

Imagine if the Commanders, who knew McLaurin was in line for a new deal, had gotten to work on that new deal in February or early March? After all, it’s not like they were busy recovering from the playoffs.

(And, yes I get it, salary cap issues.)

The Commanders are about to clear nearly $12 million in cap space when the Landon Collins release becomes official for cap purposes on June 1.

Still, McLaurin should be a priority as his statistics suggest.

He’s had two 1,000-yard seasons and a 900-yard season. He’s produced 10 games of 100 yards or more receiving. He’s scored 16 touchdowns in 46 games.

And McLaurin has done this with Case Keenum, Colt McCoy, Dwayne Haskins, Tyler Heinicke, Alex Smith, Garrett Gilbert and Kyle Allen as the team’s quarterbacks.

Speaks for itself.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero has covered the NFL since 1990 for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and ESPN. He was a 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and AP All-Pro team voter.

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