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Should the Colts consider a trade for Terry McLaurin?

Syndication: The Record Danielle Parhizkaran/ / USA TODAY NETWORK

Terry McLaurin is holding out against the Washington Commanders. McLaurin is seeking a contract extension as he enters the final year of his deal. There are rumours that McLaurin could be moved if the Commanders deem his price to be too high. Should the Colts be interested in trading for McLaurin? How much would it cost to trade for him and then to sign him to that contract extension? Would he even been a good fit on the team?

How much he would cost to trade for

In order to fully understand this question, we need to look at recent trades of high-end receivers. Here are the biggest receiver trades (with their compensation and draft value chart points) of the last 5 years.

  • Tyreek Hill (2022) — 1st Round Pick (29th Overall), 2nd Round Pick, 4th Round Pick, Future 3rd Round Pick, Future 6th Round Pick | 1,148 Points
  • AJ Brown (2022) — 1st Round Pick (18th Overall), 3rd Round Pick | 996 Points
  • Davante Adams (2022) — 1st Round Pick (22nd Overall), 2nd Round Pick | 1,150 Points
  • Amari Cooper pt.2 (mostly a salary dump due to emergence of younger star plus high salary cap hits) (2022) — 5th Round Pick, 6th Round Swap | 28 Points
  • Stefon Diggs (2020) — 1st Round Pick (22nd Overall), 5th Round Pick, 6th Round Pick, Future 4th Round Pick | 850 Points
  • Deandre Hopkins (2020) — 2nd Round Pick, 4th Round Pick, RB David Johnson | 547 Points
  • Odell Beckham Jr (2019) — 1st Round Pick (17th Overall) , 3rd Round Pick, S Jabrill Peppers, OG Kevin Zeitler | 1070 Points (Browns received a good player and gave up 2 good players)
  • Amari Cooper pt.1 (2018) — 1st Round Pick (27th Overall) | 680 Points

If we look at the average of those deals (excluding Cooper pt.2), using the NFL Draft Pick Value Chart, then we get a number of 920 points with a low of 547 and a high of 1150. McLaurin would definitely fall on the lower end of that range.

If the Colts found a way to offer 700 points, then I think that would suffice. They could offer 5th round picks for the next 30 drafts, but something tells me the Commanders would say no to that.

A first round pick at this point could be very tricky for the Colts to give up. 700 points equates to the 26th overall pick, which means the Colts would have to make it to the Divisional Series of the playoffs to attain that pick. If they don’t, then the Commanders would definitely come out on top in that deal.

In my opinion, the Colts should offer the Commanders:

  • 2023 2nd Round Pick
  • 2023 4th Round Pick
  • 2024 2nd Round Pick

That would most likely get the Colts to around 700 points, assuming the Colts attain a pick in the early 20s. Anything below the early 20s would be more of a win for the Commanders and anything higher the early 20s would be more of a win for the Colts. The Colts held the 16th overall pick this season, but by most accounts got stronger and will almost certainly be picking later this season barring any unfortunate or unlucky injuries or breaks.

How much his contract would cost

McLaurin is in the last year of his rookie deal and carries a $3M cap hit in 2022. The big question is his contract extension and it’s expected to be a hefty one.

When first projecting the contract, we have to find comparable players and contracts. In my opinion, the following 5 players are good comparisons:

  • DJ Moore (contract signed 2022)
  • AJ Brown (contract signed 2022)
  • Robert Woods (contract signed 2020)
  • Chris Godwin (contract signed 2022)
  • Amari Cooper (contract signed 2020)

These receivers aren’t in the elite upper class of receivers of the NFL (with the likes of Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, Deandre Hopkins, Stefon Diggs and Tyreek Hill), but they are in the tier below it (the 6-15 range). If we take the average of those 5 contracts and adjust them for 2022 dollars, we get a contract that looks like this:

4 Years, $74,400,000 with $38,200,000 guaranteed

However, McLaurin’s first year would kick in in 2023 so we would have to adjust the contract to 2023 dollars, which means if we use the projected 9% increase some are projected to see for 2023 (historical average is around 7-8%), the contract adjusted for 2023 dollars would look like this:

4 Years, $81,100,000 with $41,700,000 guaranteed

This is the type of contract we can expect to see from McLaurin. He might ask to bump it an extra 1.5M overall to surpass DJ Moore’s average per year, but barring little things like that, McLaurin’s deal should look like that.

If the Colts slightly front load the deal then the cap hits could look like this:

His 2022 amount is lower because it’s the last year of his rookie deal with 20% of the signing bonus added in. The full extension would kick in in 2023.

His fit with the team

McLaurin would be a fantastic fit with the Colts and completely shore up an average at best receiver corps. A top three of Terry McLaurin, Michael Pittman Jr and Alec Pierce would give the Colts a potential top 10 group on top of having the best running back in the league, a top 10 offensive line and an experienced above average quarterback; they would have one of the better offenses in the NFL.

The Commanders used McLaurin a lot on inward routes (drags, crosses, digs, posts) with an emphases on drags and crosses since those are effective against man coverage (something he saw a lot). However, despite McLaurin running those routes a lot, he wasn’t targeted as much as he should have and a lot of his damage ended up coming against zone coverage (72% in zone vs 28% in man). Despite that stat, McLaurin had a higher passer rating when found in man (106.6) versus when he was in zone (79.5), which tells me he can be extremely effective against man coverage with the right quarterback and system.

With McLaurin, that would give the Colts two very good receivers against man coverage with Pittman also boasting a 100+ passer rating against man and had the 12th most catches in the NFL last season against man coverage. When the defenses get stronger, you usually see a lot more man coverage, so this combination would give the Colts a significant advantage against those teams.

When teams play zone coverage, there is more of an emphasis on timing and rhythm, which might be tough early on with a new receiver and new quarterback, but that gets smoother over time and having highly skilled players can ease that transition.

McLaurin gives the Colts an incredible, young 1-2 punch at receiver.

Is it worth considering?

It is definitely worth considering.

From a contract perspective, the Colts can easily afford it for the 2022 season. It would cause some issues in 2023 and force the Colts to reconfigure Matt Ryan’s contract (via an extension to lower the current year’s cap hits), and/or potentially restructure the deals of Braden Smith, Darius Leonard and DeForest Buckner.

From a trade perspective, I would not accept a deal that includes a 1st round pick, but the deal that I proposed before (and which I believe to be fair) would be one I accept as it allows the Colts to keep their 1st round pick.

From a fit perspective, McLaurin is a great fit because of the vertical and explosive element he adds as well as the ability to compliment Michael Pittman Jr perfectly.