Business decisions are being made across the NFL, and teams are reacting to their players’ choices. As former Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl-winning head coach Brian Billick frequently said, “There’s a time for pay and a time for play.”
Multiple high-profile NFL players, including wide receivers Terry McLaurin and DK Metcalf, are engaged in unresolved contractual situations, and trade scenarios remain at impasses as mandatory full-team minicamps take place. Here’s a look at where some of the more intriguing situations and stalemates stand.
Terry McLaurin, Washington Commanders
Terry McLaurin is one of the top young wide receivers in the NFL. The Commanders standout is skipping minicamp after previously choosing to not attend voluntary organized team activities. Heading into the final year of his rookie contract and due a $2.79 million base salary, McLaurin is awaiting his payday.
This isn’t a major controversy. McLaurin has done everything the Commanders could have hoped for. Head coach Ron Rivera told reporters he understands what the former Ohio State standout is doing and expressed confidence that something will ultimately be worked out.
McLaurin, who can be subject to $93,085 in fines for missing the minicamp, had 1,053 yards and five touchdowns last season on 77 receptions. He’s incredibly valuable to an offense that’s hoping to revive the career of quarterback Carson Wentz.
Because dialogue is ongoing between the Commanders and McLaurin, there’s hope for resolution. There’s no reason for fans of the NFC East franchise to overreact to his absence.
DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks
One of the most physically gifted and imposing wide receivers in the NFL, Seattle Seahawks standout DK Metcalf skipped a mandatory minicamp. He wasn’t excused, making him subject to $93,085 in fines.
Because Metcalf is coming off of injuries, he decided to spend his time rehabbing in Los Angeles rather than be a bystander at the minicamp.
Metcalf has expressed confidence that a deal will be struck eventually, telling Shannon Sharpe on his podcast, “I will say we are going to get something done. I think I’m going to be in Seattle for the next coming years, yes sir. At the end of the day once you sit down and make a grown-man decision, yeah, I want to be in Seattle.”
It’s similar to how Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is treating the situation with Metcalf, who has 216 career receptions for 3,170 yards and 29 touchdowns in three NFL seasons.
“We don’t plan on him going anywhere else,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said recently. “We want him to be with us.”
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
Baker Mayfield, a former top overall pick, remains in an awkward spot. The former starting quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner is still on the Cleveland Browns’ roster.
Mayfield would love a change of scenery. The Browns would be thrilled to have his $18.8 million guaranteed fifth-year option salary off their books. They excused him from their mandatory minicamp and have moved on from Mayfield after trading for quarterback Deshaun Watson and signing him to a $230 million fully guaranteed contract despite the probability of hefty NFL discipline for sexual misconduct allegations.
And the Carolina Panthers, currently saddled with disappointing Sam Darnold as their starter with rookie Matt Corral not ready to be QB1, are intrigued by Mayfield.
The disconnect in a potential trade hasn’t changed. Although league sources indicate the Browns and the Panthers are still talking (just as they did during the draft), neither team wants to pay the majority of his salary. The Panthers would prefer to do a deal as soon as possible to begin getting Mayfield up to speed on their playbook.
Mayfield, who’s making a sound recovery from offseason shoulder surgery, has been keeping his arm in shape by throwing to Cole Beasley and Danny Amendola at his offseason home in Austin, Texas. When or if this stalemate ends remains unclear.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is involved in one of the more perplexing contract situations in recent NFL history. Jackson, coming off an injury-plagued season ranking far below his previous gold standard, is due for a blockbuster contract.
The Ravens want to negotiate and pay him. Jackson, who has no agent and relies on the counsel of his mother and other advisors, doesn’t want to engage. No contract discussions are being held currently, and no deal is imminent or necessarily expected before the start of the regular season, according to league sources.
Jackson had been absent from the team this entire offseason, missing three weeks of organized team activities. As Jackson said he would, though, he reported for minicamp. That falls in line with what Ravens head coach John Harbaugh had predicted for Jackson.
Because Jackson is currently expected to play this season under a fully guaranteed $23.016 million fifth-year option, he’s not hurting for money. By betting on himself, the steady rise of the salary cap, and the exploding quarterback market, Jackson could make more in the long run than he could if he signed a new deal now.
That’s a debatable business strategy because his value can go down if he gets hurt or doesn’t excel this season. Yet, Jackson appears content to bank on his skills after throwing a career-high 13 interceptions and being sacked a career-high 38 times last season before missing the final four games of the year.
Jackson could wind up being named the Ravens’ franchise player next offseason.
Healthy again and noticeably bigger after an offseason devoted to lifting weights, Jackson remains in a somewhat uneasy alliance with the Ravens. As general manager Eric DeCosta has repeatedly said this offseason, the AFC North franchise will approach this “at Lamar’s urgency.”
It’s a lot to bet on a 25-year-old, but Jackson has proven in the past that he shouldn’t be underestimated on or off the field.
And Harbaugh and teammates praised Jackson heavily Tuesday.
“He’s physically in very good shape, I thought his arm looked really good,” Harbaugh said. “You can see he’s been throwing a lot. You can see he’s in great physical condition. It’s great to have him out there. He kind of boosted everybody’s spirits, too.”
Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals star quarterback Kyle Murray is participating in a mandatory minicamp. He returned to participate on the field in organized team activities after not attending last week’s voluntary workouts. It’s universally regarded as a positive development in Murray’s unresolved contract situation.
Murray, who has two years remaining on his current deal, is seeking a blockbuster contract extension. League sources have expressed guarded optimism that a deal could be struck this year.
The clock is ticking on this situation. It’s hard to envision Murray playing this season under the terms of his rookie deal. The Cardinals seem amenable to working something out that represents market value for a quarterback like Murray. Finding a financial compromise represents a challenge.
“I’m praying before training camp,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said Tuesday.
What if there isn’t a deal by that date? Sounds like Kingsbury anticipates a holdout.
“I’m not sure,” Kingsbury said. “That’d be a Kyler question. But I, just personally, I’m being selfish here, would love for him to be there the first day of training camp.”
Cardinals general manager Steve Keim recently emphasized that he has no intentions of trading Murray, saying there was a “zero chance” of trading the Pro Bowl passer. The Cardinals previously exercised the fifth-year club option for Murray.
A former top overall pick in 2019, Murray is seeking a new deal. His agent, Erik Burkhardt, released a statement this offseason expressing a desire for fair market value for the former Oklahoma star.
Murray passed for 3,797 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions last season. Additionally, he rushed for 423 yards and five touchdowns.
Keim, during a press conference this spring, expressed a need for patience with such an important negotiation.
“The way we have approached it is we have free agency, we have the draft, and then we will take a deep breath and sort of refocus,” Keim said. “That’s sort of the reason every other player that has been a third-year quarterback has been (extended) in the middle of or late summer. It’s no different for us. Nothing has changed in terms of him being our long-term and short-term quarterback.
“Listen, I was a decent GM when Carson Palmer was our quarterback. When he retired, I wasn’t very good. I am smart enough to know that Kyler Murray makes me a better GM.”