Any opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the team.
With the Washington Football Team just a few weeks removed from the season finale and a critical offseason on the horizon, it's time to turn the page to the 2022 campaign.
Over the next two weeks, washingtonfootball.com will break down every position group and lay out who the team could potentially add via free agency and the draft. Here are the position groups covered so far:
Next up are the wide receivers:
On the roster
There were few constants on Washington's offense with injuries and a COVID-19 outbreak forcing players in and out of the lineup all year. It shouldn't be shocking that Terry McLaurin was once again one of the pillars that propped up the unit.
McLaurin finished the 2021 season surpassing the 1,000-yard mark yet again, becoming the first Washington player to accomplish the feat in nearly three decades. He set a goal for himself to make improvements as a contested catcher, and he ended up being the best in the league. And despite playing with three quarterbacks, he was reliable as ever.
"He doesn't wear his emotions on his sleeve," said head coach Ron Rivera. "That's what's impressive about him is he goes about his business. He works hard at his business. He may say something, but if he does it probably privately. I have not seen him wear any of his emotions on his sleeve, other than the excitement of when something big happens."
McLaurin has been determined to prove himself as a No. 1 receiver since he joined the league. He's done that, but he knows that journey doesn't stop after one or two seasons. He's still looking for ways to improve his skillset, and his next goal is to be more dynamic after the catch.
"I never want to be in a position in this league…to feel like I got it or become complacent," McLaurin said. "As soon as that happens, you kind of lose a step, and that's when guys pass you by. You gotta always have that edge to feel like you have to do something to prove yourself and improve."
McLaurin's status as Washington's top pass-catcher was never in doubt. The receivers around him, however, changed more often, although it should be noted that it was less than in years past. Washington brought in five new wideouts -- Curtis Samuel, Adam Humphries, Dyami Brown, Dax Milne and DeAndre Carter -- to give the roster more clarity at the position.
It was expected that Samuel, who Rivera drafted with the Carolina Panthers, would be the No. 2 threat opposite McLaurin. Injuries dating back to OTAs kept him sidelined for most of the year, though, and finished the year appearing in five games with six receptions for 26 yards.
With Samuel out, Washington leaned on its other options, one of the most reliable being Humphries. Humphries saw the second-most targets on the team and finished third in receiving yards (383) for the Burgundy & Gold. He caught 66% of his passes, and more than half of his receptions resulted in first downs.
"He's huge," said offensive coordinator Scott Turner. "I mean, as that slot receiver, he does a lot of the dirty work inside."
Another pleasant surprise was Carter, who was brought in on a one-year deal as primarily a kick returner. He ended up being much more than that. He caught 24 passes for 296 yards, and plays like his 24-yard grab against the Atlanta Falcons showed how effective he could be in clutch moments.
It was a bonus that he also finished second in kickoff return yards and was one of eight players to return a kick for a touchdown.
Rounding out the main contributors were Brown, Milne and veteran Cam Sims. Sims finished the season with 15 receptions for 211 yards and two touchdowns, one of which helped Washington secure a 27-20 win over the Panthers.
Brown and Milne -- Washington's two draft picks at the position -- combined for 248 yards. Brown, who was known as a deep threat for North Carolina, flashed some of that talent on his final three catches, averaging 26 yards per reception. Milne added another option for Washington's quarterbacks in the slot and had a catch rate of 79%.
Washington has two players -- Humphries and Carter -- at the position who will become free agents in March. The team does have the ability to keep one or both players, but other options like Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin and Davante Adams and several others will also be on the open market. Check out the full list, HERE.
This year's wide receiver class is not as deep as year's past, although there are some talented prospects who should be available once Washington picks at 11th overall. Alabama's Jameson Williams, Ohio State's Chris Olave and Arkansas' Treylon Brooks all top the position. Check out the full list, HERE.