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Colts Connected to Washington WR Terry McLaurin Again—But a Trade Remains a Serious Longshot

The Colts would assuredly love to add Terry McLaurin from a talent perspective, but there’s more to consider here.

Washington Football Team v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts have recently been connected again to Washington Commanders talented young wideout Terry McLaurin, who’s hoping to receive a lucrative long-term contract extension—which so far, Washington has been unwilling to pay:

The 26 year old wideout clearly checks a lot of boxes for the Colts, as a team captain for the Commanders, who’s an Indianapolis native (as a former Cathedral High School standout and Indiana’s 2013 Mr. Football Award winner) and has been incredibly productive to begin his early professional career.

McLaurin has handled both his volatile starting quarterback situation, and the Washington organization’s own self-generated national controversies in stride—as a true pro’s pro, even at an early age, showing maturity beyond his years.

He’s coming off a season for Washington, in which he caught 77 receptions for 1,053 receiving yards (13.7 ypr. avg.) and 5 touchdown receptions during all 17 starts.

He also happens to be a childhood Colts’ fan—meaning this could be a match made in heaven (and he may appreciate the added veteran stability of new Indy quarterback Matt Ryan too):

Still, his high profile acquisition remains a longshot. It’s not that Colts general manager Chris Ballard doesn’t assuredly think McLaurin is a heck of an NFL wideout (even though Indianapolis now infamously selected his former Ohio State oft-injured teammate Parris Campbell with the 59th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft over him—a move which the Colts likely now regret, even if they’ll never state it publicly).

It’s largely the NFL ‘economics’ of it all.

The Philadelphia Eagles just had to surrender a 2022 first round pick and hand out a 4-year, $100M contract (with $57M guaranteed) for ex-Tennessee Titans wideout (and another elite member from the 2019 NFL draft class) A.J. Brown.

One would reasonably expect that a similar haul would be expected by both the Commanders and McLaurin’s representation regarding any potential mega-extension with his new NFL team respectively.

The Colts have an estimated $23.2M of projected available cap space next offseason, so they aren’t quite as flush with it as they normally are. That’s also with Yannick Ngakoue (FA) not under contract, who Indianapolis will presumably want to re-sign if he has a productive debut season as a pass rusher.

There’s also some contract extensions for both Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman Jr. to start thinking about among their young offensive core (and a looming Quenton Nelson extension ahead of next offseason).

There’s this, and the fact that Ballard doesn’t seem to necessarily overly value the wideout position. This is the same NFL lead football operations executive, who had run it back for three straight seasons with Zach Pascal as the team’s starting WR2. A solid role player and gifted blocker, who didn’t always consistently push the needle as a plus receiving threat.

This offseason, he finally spent another second round pick on rookie Alec Pierce to provide another dynamic talent at the position—but it took some time (and was arguably overdue). Expecting him, in a sole offseason, to use a 2022 second, a 2023 first, and hand out a $100M contract to upgrade the position seems like wishful thinking based on what we’ve seen from his past precedent.

This is a Colts team that already didn’t have its first round pick this offseason to get an impact talent on a cheaper multi-year rookie contract, and it still faces long-term questions at critical positions such as starting quarterback, left tackle, and cornerback respectively.

There’s also the fact that the Commanders are notorious for ‘dragging their feet’ during contentious standoffs with players. This is the same much maligned franchise that refused to deal disgruntled All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams for an entire year after he was upset with how Washington handled his medical situation—and had requested an earlier trade.

It’s also a Washington franchise that will want to place newly acquired starting quarterback Carson Wentz in the best situation to succeed in 2022, who’s likely in a ‘make or break’ season in remaining a surefire starting quarterback in this league (and will be facing top backup quarterback prospects otherwise). Trading the team’s young star WR1 just weeks before training camp begins won’t help his new cause by any means.

Washington can always just franchise tag McLaurin too if contract talks reach a stalemate, so the franchise still retains leverage here in negotiations.

So from purely a talent (and makeup) perspective, the Colts would likely love to add McLaurin into their wide receiver room—who could be a star playmaker at the position for many years to come.

However, when considering everything else, while not impossible, it seems like a longshot.