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How Scary Is Terry's Receiver Core?

Many people are starting to limit Terry McLaurin to a top 20, at best, receiver in the NFL. This is the same guy who has broken the 1,000-yard plateau in the past four seasons and has never been short of 900 yards in his career. However, I will contain my feelings about fans' opinions on Terry and focus on him and the group that he will have surrounding him for the 2024 season.

2023 Season Overview

Despite the struggles on offense last season with about 19 points per game, aided by the worst defense in the NFL, who allowed 30.5 points per game, the Commanders' offense through the air was not too bad. Well, sort of. The team threw for 4,174 yards on the season, 3,946 coming from Sam Howell. Their biggest issue was turnovers and sacks on passing plays. Howell threw 21 interceptions and took 65 sacks for a loss of 449 yards, which was the most in the league. These stats have little to do with the wide receiver group, which was better than credited last year.

The Existing Trio

When you think of the best trios in the league last year, you think of groups like Chase, Higgins, and Boyd in Cincinnati. Or Brown, Smith, and Zaccheaus in Philly. Or Metcalf, Lockett, and Smith-Njigba in Seattle. These guys are at the top of the league and not comparable, but I think this Commanders' core is much closer statistically than people think. Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, and Curtis Samuel were only 2 touchdowns behind the Bengals' trio and about 500 yards short of Seattle's crew. Together, they combined 2,100 yards and 12 touchdowns, making up half the team's receiving touchdowns and over half of the receiving yards.

The New Guys

This offseason, the Commanders lost Curtis Samuel in free agency, tight end Logan Thomas, and receiving back Antonio Gibson. These holes in the receiving game were filled very quickly and efficiently. Austin Ekeler replaced Gibson in free agency, who was used more as a main back last year, but he expressed his interest in being a receiving back and said he no longer wanted to be running the ball as much as he did.

The departure of Logan Thomas, who had been struggling with production and injuries the past couple of years anyway, brought in veteran Zach Ertz and rookie Ben Sinnott. They always say a rookie quarterback's best friend is his tight end. Who better for Jayden Daniels to throw to than a veteran with such a great career? Ertz has produced over 7,400 yards in his career and has not had as big of a season recently; however, that is not what Washington will expect from him this season. He could have 250 yards and 2 TDs and still be successful this season. The biggest impact I would like to see from him is guiding rookie Ben Sinnott for a good start to his NFL career. Sinnott finished his career with over 1100 yards and 10 touchdowns in his last two seasons at Kansas State, showing a lot of potential to be a great tight end in the NFL. His versatility also brings a benefit to the table. He lined up all over the place, including the slot, backfield, and wideout at Kansas State.

Finally, the under-the-radar addition I am most excited about is Luke McCaffery. Brother of San Francisco star Christian, Luke is built very similarly to his brother and contains a lot of the same skill sets. Luke played his last two seasons at Rice, combining those seasons for an impressive 1715 yards and 19 touchdowns. On top of that, he seems to have a great connection with Jayden Daniels already. Reports said he was Daniels's favorite target in OTAs and that they do a lot of work together outside of practice, including showing up at the facility at 5:45 in the morning before practice to get reps in. This work ethic and chemistry could help them greatly as they grow into the league together.

The Commanders' receiving core has the potential to get even better as well. Rumors have been floating around about Brandon Aiyuk leaving the 49ers after a video of him saying, "They [49ers] said they don't want me back" while on FaceTime with Jayden Daniels. Trade tensions between Aiyuk and the 49ers have been going on over a new contract. On top of that, Daniels was asked who he leans on the most in the NFL, and he responded by saying Brandon Aiyuk and mentioned that they talk a lot, sometimes three or four times a day. These two also played at Arizona State together in college. The biggest issue between Aiyuk and the 49ers seems to be the money and the amount he is asking for. How much of a problem is that for the team with the second most cap space in the NFL? The Commanders still have about 37 million dollars to spend this season. This addition could very easily put the Commanders in the talks for one of the best trios in the NFL between McLaurin, Dotson, and Aiyuk.

This receiving team is so well-rounded in every position. I am so excited to see what kind of offense the Commanders develop this season. The biggest question mark is always a rookie quarterback, but there is a lot of confidence in Jayden Daniels, and the group that surrounds him will make his season a lot easier. I am curious to watch how Kingsbury transforms this offense.

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