Why Ron Rivera's so reluctant to discuss Terry McLaurin's contract

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Re-signing Terry McLaurin should be a primary offseason objective for the Washington Football Team with the third-year receiver entering the final year of his rookie deal in 2022.

McLaurin has beyond proven himself as a top target in the NFL, averaging just over 1,000 yards receiving per year in three seasons since being selected as a third-rounder in 2019. He's been a beacon of consistency for Washington, with 222 catches for 3,090 yards and 16 touchdowns in total, despite receiving passes from eight different starting quarterbacks. And he's coming off consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to boot.

In an ideal world, McLaurin would never reach free agency. But in order for Washington to prevent that, it will have to make McLaurin a substantial offer, as it did with defensive tackle Jonathan Allen last offseason, to keep the 26-year old from testing the market after next season.

Washington head coach Ron Rivera revealed why he's reluctant to even discuss the matter publicly, after being implored to do so during his weekly appearance with The Sports Junkies, presented by F.H. Furr. After being informed fans are scared to death of losing McLaurin to free agency, Rivera was asked if he's confident the receiver will remain in Washington long term.

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"You know, you guys are interesting because you guys, you want to help us as much as you can but then you put me on the spot," Rivera said. "Just so you know, his agent loves your show, listens to your show, so if he's listening to your show and he's hearing me say how much I love Terry and I want to get Terry here, you don't think he's gonna use that against me?"

"Come on!" exclaimed Junkies host Eric Bickel. "That's not gonna affect anything!"

Rivera relayed an anecdote from his time as Eagles linebackers coach (1999-2003) that's left him paranoid about discussing player contracts ever since.

"Please! Are you kidding me?!" Rivera replied. "You know, one of the all-time great stories I had when I was coming up as a young coach. I was on Andy Reid's original coaching staff in Philadelphia, okay? The dreaded Eagles. And Jim Johnson, one of the all-time [defensive coordinators]. He should be in the Hall of Fame, I really believe that. He came out and he talked about one of our corners. He was our third corner, played nickel back for us for the most part.

"And Jim came out and said, 'This guy should be a starter.' When that guy's contract was up, [his agent] went in to discuss with our people a new contract for the kid. And so our people made him an offer, and the guy said, 'No, no, no. This guy's a starter.' And they said, 'He's not a starter.' He pulled this newspaper out and put it on the desk. And on it, he had circled the quote: 'This guy should be a starter.' And they wanted starter money."

"So what I've learned from that is you've got to be very careful what you say," Rivera continued, "because it'll come back and bite you in the butt! So again, just so you guys know — and I'm gonna say this off the record, so don't put this on the air — I love Terry! And we're gonna do everything we can.

"So everybody, please relax. Let us do our job. Trust us. Trust us. We know what we're... believe me, this is a heck of a football player. Two years, back-to-back 1,000 yards. See, now you've got me talking about him. I promise you, he's recording this."