Diontae Johnson Likely Has Eyes On Commanders’ WR Terry McLaurin

There was a time back in 2019 when it felt like Ohio State WR Terry McLaurin could become a Steeler. He was fast, had a good pre-workout process, and the Buckeye connection couldn’t hurt. Ultimately, the Steelers passed up the chance to take him, drafting Toledo’s Diontae Johnson instead as a bit cleaner 1:1 replacement for Antonio Brown.

Fast forward more than three years leader and McLaurin may be another notch in setting a potential Johnson extension.

In an offseason that has seen receivers get paid, everyone from Christian Kirk to Davante Adams, the market has shot up. And McLaurin may be the next added to that list. He’s one of the most likely receiver to get signed this summer and went so far as to holdout of mandatory minicamp, the clearest signal he wants a new deal.

Washington heard him. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Commanders plan to get a new deal done with him soon, perhaps within days. Here’s what he told ESPN’s Get Up as transcribed by a recent Bleacher Report article.

“I’m told that Washington has intensified their efforts to try to get a long-term deal done with him,” Fowler said via B/R. “He sat out minicamp. That sort of sparked more talks. They’ve sort of been upping their proposals. … Nothing imminent yet, but this could get done even this week. Definitely before training camp is Washington’s plan.”

A deal is likely to take place for two reasons. One, McLaurin deserves it. He’s a serious deep threat who has suffered and still thrived through sub-par quarterback play, putting up back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. And two, Washington desperately needs some good news. They’re mired in controversy, with some wondering if Dan Snyder will soon have to sell the team. They could use some good PR and McLaurin isn’t a charity case. It’s a win-win on and off the field.

Compared to Johnson, their three-year numbers are very similar. Here’s how both stack up:

Diontae Johnson (47 games): 254 receptions, 2,764 yards (10.9 YPC) 20 TDs
Terry McLaurin (46 games): 222 receptions, 3,090 yards (13.9 YPC) 16 TDs

Johnson a bit more volume, McLaurin a bit more downfield action.

McLaurin is likely to get around that $20 million average yearly value mark other receivers have received this year. His deal is almost certain to get done before Johnson’s and could be the best way to set the tone for Johnson’s deal. Dave Bryan has outlined a contract extension for Johnson extremely well and Johnson is already probably asking for $20 million+ a year even before McLaurin puts pen to paper. But this will be the final stake to create the framework of a Johnson extension should it get done. Much more than the Hunter Renfrow deal, which isn’t nearly as comparable.

Still, as Joel Corry outlined Friday, Johnson’s extension could be more complicated than that. The guaranteed portion of the deal could be a sticking point. Johnson will look for two years fully guaranteed, just as the team did for Minkah Fitzpatrick. But Pittsburgh will likely argue those were exceptions for All-Pro studs and guys who were becoming the highest-paid players at their position. Johnson isn’t in either of those camps. But his team will still make a push for that second year of guarantees and if a deal does not occur, this could be the real obstacle.

I’m sure once the McLaurin deal gets done, we’ll pass along those numbers. And you can bet Johnson’s agent will be putting that on Omar Khan’s table as the contract he needs to top.

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