ASHBURN, Va. — Washington Commanders coach Ron Rivera viewed receiver Terry McLaurin as more than just a receiver in need of extension. He was a key player for an organization trying to rebuild its image amid a congressional investigation.
“He’s an organizational newcomer,” Rivera said. “It’s not just on the football side, it’s also on the business side. It tells people we want to keep young men of this size; we want young men of this size to represent our organisation.”
Congress has been investigating Washington-based owner Dan Snyder since October. It held a hearing on June 22, and Snyder declined to attend or testify via video call. The Democratic leadership of the House Oversight Committee is still negotiating with Snyder’s attorneys to get him to testify about Washington’s work culture.
The bang of Congress history has drowned out other organizational news. When McLaurin skipped the OTA volunteer work in the field and then the mandatory three-day mini-camp, fans feared more bad news was in store for her. McLaurin worked his way from a third-round pick in 2019 — expected to be a key special teams player and backup receiver — to a man with two 1,000-yard seasons in his first three.
Rivera stressed his importance to the organization to McLaurin in a phone call during minicamp – when McLaurin was training in Florida.
“He emphasized that closing the deal was a priority from the start,” McLaurin said.
When Washington left minicamp on June 16, there was optimism that McLaurin would soon be renewed. He agreed to his three-year deal worth up to $71 million – with a $28 million signing bonus – last week and signed it on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Rivera focused the signing of McLaurin on how he said the organization had changed over the past two years, getting rid of others at key positions who have been accused of sexual harassment.
“I beg you, please don’t judge us by ‘that’s when this happened,'” Rivera said. “We’re going ahead. We change things. We try to do our best. I know some people think it doesn’t matter, but it does matter. It shows that you can change, you can adapt, you can make things better. You can correct your mistakes, and that’s exactly what we do. We correct our mistakes, we get a lot of support.”
McLaurin thrived in Washington despite playing with eight different starting quarterbacks. After finishing with 919 yards as a rookie, he surpassed 1,000 yards each of the next two seasons.
For the past two seasons combined, McLaurin ranked 11th in the NFL with 2,171 receiving yards and 12th with 164 receptions.
It’s also why he’s been a must for Rivera as he juggles on-field planning with off-field messaging.
“We’re doing our best to put the best players in position so we can build something we can all be proud of,” Rivera said. “I’m a bit upset about it because I get it, it’s a message. What we do on the field is important; that’s what we’re trying to do. We try not to say what happened because it doesn’t matter, it does. It’s something we have to make sure, in order to move forward socially, that we don’t let these things happen again, so we’re doing everything we can to make sure we’re better off.
McLaurin said he and other team leaders tried to look ahead.
“We have faith in Coach Rivera’s vision and how he is leading us,” said McLaurin. “He’s doing a great job of dealing with it and taking all the outside pressure on himself. … We represent the organization on and off the field as best we can. We take it seriously. It comes with work and frankly transparency and working hard as a collective group and building unity. Coach Rivera allows us to focus on the field. We understand what’s going on outside; we want to focus on where we’re going.”