Landon Collins’ contract is cancelled. Does this impact a deal with Terry McLaurin?

Last Wednesday marked a pivotal date for the finances of Washington commanders. Safety Landon Collins, who was released earlier this offseason with a designation after June 1, has officially had his salary taken off the books.

By releasing Collins, Commanders saved $11.8 million in cap space for the 2022 season. According to OverTheCapWashington now has nearly $18.4 million in cap space for the coming year, seventh among all clubs.

So, with Washington’s newly obtained ceiling space, what’s next? Well, commanders have a few options.

For starters, Washington might choose to sign a veteran or two on its roster. The linebacker remains a need, especially after the club failed to draft one in April, and veterans like Anthony Hitchens, Joe Schobert and Kwon Alexander remain available.

Last year, Washington made a pair of post-draft signings with left tackle Charles Leno and safety Bobby McCain. Both players have performed well in 2021 and agreed multi-year deals with the club earlier this year.

During rookie minicamp in early May, head coach Ron Rivera was asked about adding a few more veterans to his roster. He didn’t rule it out.

“I think we have time,” Rivera said. “Last year we found our left tackle in Charles Leno in June, we found our returner [DeAndre Carter] in June, so we have time. I mean, the last time I looked, kick-off was the second weekend in September.”

However, while the addition of a veteran or two can help commanders in the short term, Washington fans are hoping the team spends its newly freed up cash in a specific way. That would be on star receiver Terry McLaurin, who is currently absent from the team as he seeks a lucrative contract extension.

McLaurin, a 2019 third-round pick, is entering the final year of his rookie contract. To date, the 26-year-old has brought just over $3 million in revenue. Under his current contract, McLaurin is expected to earn $2.79 million in 2022.

Anyone who has followed the Commanders — or the NFL, for that matter — over the past three seasons knows that McLaurin is significantly over his contract. In 2019, he missed just nine yards to break the franchise’s rookie yard record. Over the past two seasons, McLaurin has had back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns despite needing two hands to count how many quarterbacks he’s caught passes.

The wide receiver market has exploded this offseason, just like now 10 pass-catchers expected to earn $20 million or more in 2022. McLaurin’s 2019 teammate AJ Brown just signed a four-year, $100 million extension with the Eagles after being traded from Tennessee to Philadelphia on draft night. McLaurin can certainly use Brown’s deal as a bargaining chip.

Despite continued resistance from McLaurin, Rivera remained confident that the two sides will reach an agreement.

“We’ve had communications with them,” Rivera said on May 24. “We worked with them. It’s just a matter of time.”

So how does Collins’ contract factor into a potential McLaurin extension? Well, the truth is at least for 2022, not much.

If McLaurin signs an extension, his new contract’s base salary increase won’t begin until 2023 (unless the team tears up the final year of his current contract, which is atypical). Yes, the broad will get a guaranteed lucrative amount of money on signing, but Commanders will have the option to spread it out in terms of cap. The reality is that McLaurin’s ceiling in 2022 will be pretty cheap, even if he signs a long-term extension.

It should also be noted that Washington and McLaurin’s camp began negotiations long before Collins’ contract was canceled. Yes, not having Collins under contract freed up space, but the COs would have had the space to pay McLaurin regardless.

In the end, Collins’ contract shouldn’t have been a reason for stalled negotiation talks between McLaurin and the team. It’s about finding the right number that works for both parties.

Rivera’s optimism should give Commanders fans confidence in a potential McLaurin expansion. However, only time will tell if this will happen.

About Joey J. Hott

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