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Terry McLaurin focused on team goals over individual success

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There was no hesitation in Terry McLaurin’s voice when asked if he had any goals heading into his fourth season.

"I wanna get to the playoffs and have a chance to win a super bowl."

That's an answer Commanders fans have come to expect from McLaurin, who signed a multiyear extension with the Washington Commanders last week. It's an unselfish approach to being the best offensive weapon the team has had since 2019, and it's one of the chief reasons why coach Ron Rivera views him as an “organizational signing” that helps the franchise beyond on field production.

Don't confuse those grander goals with an absence of personal milestones. McLaurin has his sights set on being one of the best receivers in the NFL; as one of the few receivers with at least 220 receptions, 3,000 receiving yards and 15 receiving touchdowns since 2019, he's taken the right steps to being seen as such.

Those aspirations never come before Washington's success, though, because McLaurin knows that individual glory is part of the reward.

"I think truly you have the most success individually when you have the most success as a team," McLaurin said.

Take a behind-the-scenes look at Terry McLaurin signing his extension with the Washington Commanders. (Joe Noyes/Washington Commanders)

That's a mix of emotions that McLaurin has been balancing since he first entered the professional ranks as a third-round pick. His desire to improve his contested catch rate (he was the best in the league last season) and be more dynamic with the ball in his hands is part of what drives him to be seen as the standard at the receiver position.

At the same time, McLaurin's priority is to win games. He's collected plenty of accolades in his three seasons; he had one of the best rookie seasons in franchise history, and his 3,090 yards are the second most by a Washington player in three seasons (only Gary Clark is ahead of him).

All of that is great, but it means a little less if the Commanders don't win on Sundays.

"There's been games where...I maybe had two or three catches, but we won the freaking game, man," McLaurin said. "That's really what matters."

McLaurin knows he could set those hard goals for himself. With all that's done with the Commanders in three seasons, few would question him if he said he wanted to get 1,500 yards and double-digit touchdowns.

That's not why McLaurin loves the game so much.

"I know if I put the work in each and every day, on the field, off the field, taking care of my body, being the leader and the person that I need to be in that locker room and...have team success, I think the individual success really does come from that," McLaurin said.

The Washington Commanders and Terry McLaurin have agreed to a contract extension. Here are the top photos from McLaurin's 2021 season. (Emilee Fails, Karlee Sell/Washington Commanders)

The individual success has come for McLaurin, regardless of who has been throwing him the ball. Once Carson Wentz throws him a pass in a game -- the two have already been working together in a player-organized workout this offseason -- he'll be the ninth quarterback to have done so in three seasons.

McLaurin is one of three NFC wide receivers (Davante Adams and Justin Jefferson) with at least 75 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards in each of the past two seasons. The main difference is that both Adams and Jefferson have worked with one signal-caller.

But rather than put a priority on himself, McLaurin has focused on elevating his teammates.

"My main priority and just my mindset with each quarterback is try to put my best foot forward and make them look good in any way, shape or form I can," McLaurin said. "I've never really tried to focus on how many I've had, and although you want to try to get a connection with a guy and have some longevity, I've had fun and I've learned from all the quarterbacks I've had up until this point."

McLaurin admitted he would be lying if he said he didn't want to have a career performance in 2022. He wants to experience a Pro Bowl and get another 1,000-yard season. Those are benchmarks that come for any player wanting to be the best, and that's a fact that's always on his mind.

McLaurin is also aware those goals will be reached if he focuses on the things he can control. That attitude has worked out so far; there's no reason to change things up now.

"Just being my best each and every day is my goal," McLaurin said.

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