The Washington Commanders and wide receiver Terry McLaurin on Tuesday agreed to a three-year extension worth up to $71 million. Contracts for WRs, particularly those drafted with Deebo Samuel in 2019, are of major interest to the 49ers as they try to iron out a deal with Samuel.
Where McLaurin’s deal could help inform what Samuel’s deal may look like is not in the financials, but in the length.
Much of the reporting on Samuel’s desires in his pursuit of a new contract involve looking beyond this 2022 extension. NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport has remained steadfast in saying Samuel doesn’t want to hold onto his running back role because he’s hoping for another big payday in his career. Longevity and multiple bags are the impetus behind Samuel’s trade request, which is still on the table.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Samuel, 26, uses McLaurin’s three-year deal as the jumping off point in negotiations. If he comes in just north of McLaurin in dollars, he’d still land among the league’s highest-paid receivers while also setting himself up to hit free agency again right after he turns 30. It’s a gamble, but assuming he keeps producing at a high level and his health remains intact, there’s a real chance he sees a second substantial deal.
The 49ers will undoubtedly push for more years. They’d love to lock up Samuel through 2026 or 2027 with a four or five-year pact. That would also allow them to spread more of his money out and set themselves up to bail a year or two early from the deal if he doesn’t perform through his late 20s.
Given the frost apparently coming from Samuel’s camp though, a shorter deal may be where San Francisco has to land if they want to obtain their star receiver’s services for the long-term.
The 49ers have a lot of leverage with Samuel going into the final year of his rookie contract, and they could call his bluff and see if he’ll sit out the season and jeopardize his 2023 free agency. On the other hand, he’s their best offensive player and removing him from the equation just in time to have new starting quarterback Trey Lance stepping into the mix wouldn’t help the young signal caller.
As dollars and Samuel’s value as one of the most uniquely gifted offensive weapons in the league are worth debating, the 49ers may wind up having to work out a shorter contract that resembles something closer to McLaurin’s than AJ Brown’s or Davante Adams’ longer deals.