Insider outlines WFT’s ‘top priority’ for new deal after Charles Leno extension

With the Washington Football Team’s season officially in the books after Sunday’s 22-7 cakewalk victory over Joe Judge and lowly New York Giants, fans can now turn their attention to the offseason.

In many ways, Washington’s offseason commenced the minute they signed standout left tackle Charles Leno to a three-year extension. The full details of the contract have yet to be revealed, but all signs point to it being a bargain.

After all, Leno’s $12.5 million annual salary ranks 16th amongst left tackles. That’s mind-boggling to think about given the season he put together and he could stand to drop even further if more players agree to deals in the coming months.

The move checks one box on Washington’s offseason to-do list, and good thing because to say they have a lot on their plate would be an understatement.

Just minutes after Leno signed his deal, reports broke that the club is also keen on keeping Bobby McCain and JD McKissic.

Those rumors will thrill the fan base, especially after McCain’s two-interception performance on Sunday. However, that won’t compare to Washington’s reported “top priority” for a new deal this offseason.

Per JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington, extending Terry McLaurin will take precedence over all other contract objectives.

The Washington Football Team wants to extend Terry McLaurin.

This is obviously a no-brainer from Washington’s perspective, but it’s nice to see it officially reported on a big platform.

Going into the final year of his rookie deal, it makes all the sense in the world to extend McLaurin (if possible) before free agency. With studs like Davante Adams, Chris Godwin and Allen Robinson on expiring contracts, the receiver market is going to reset in a big way come March, so McLaurin’s price tag will skyrocket.

You also have to that consider second-tier studs like Mike Williams, Michael Gallup, Odell Beckham Jr., JuJu Smith-Schuster and Christian Kirk, among others, are also set to hit free agency and figure to drive up the market.

Speaking strictly in terms of receivers who’ll be playing in a contract year next campaign, you have Deebo Samuel, AJ Brown, Diontae Johnson, DK Metcalf, Hunter Renfrow and Calvin Ridley. That’s to say nothing of veterans like Tyreek Hill, Brandin Cook and Jarvis Landry all being due for an extension.

Translation: Washington HAS to overpay for McLaurin now.

So, where does Ron Rivera stand on a new deal for McLaurin? Last Friday, he said “the evaluation process” will commence this week.

Rivera likely can’t tip his cap to the media, but he clearly understands the pressure behind extending McLaurin. Want our evaluation of the 25-year-old? Give him everything he desires and worry about the rest later.

In terms of raw talent, he’s Washington’s most gifted receiver in a generation. On Sunday, he became just the fifth wideout in franchise history to log back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, joining Henry Ellard, Gary Clark, Bobby Mitchell and Art Monk.

In three seasons, McLaurin has compiled 222 catches for 3090 (13.9 YPR) and 13 touchdowns. Those are legitimately absurd numbers given eight (!) different quarterbacks have lined up under center since he joined the team.

What more needs to be said? If the front office is able to convince McLaurin to commit to Washington for the long haul, fans will no doubt buy into the idea that the franchise is headed in the right direction.

We know finding a new quarterback is the de facto top priority, but make no mistake; the success, or lack thereof, of the offseason will be defined by whether McLaurin agrees to a long-term deal with Washington.

After all, if you can’t retain homegrown talents, what reason would star free agents have to want to sign here?