The Washington Redskins haven’t exactly been a pillar of excellence in the NFL over the last five years. Their organizational dysfunction appears to be carrying into 2019. It seems Washington has reached the end of their rope with All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams, who has stayed away from all team activities, mandatory and otherwise, over the last few months in an effort for a new contract.
Williams has been vying for a new deal since June, and The Athletic’s Jeff Howe now reports the team is engaging in trade discussions for their longtime stalwart on the left side.
Williams established himself as one of the best blindside protectors in the league over the last half-decade or so. Health, however, has been a major concern; he hasn’t played a full season since 2013, and missed three games last season. Still, that won’t stop teams from reaching out for a tackle of Williams’ level. Here are three teams who should try to pull off a trade for Williams.
The Texans should have been on the phone with Washington as soon as they heard Williams was displeased with his contract. Deshaun Watson is already one of the top young QBs in this league. Imagine if he wasn’t sacked on over 10 percent of his drop-backs? Houston needs to fix their offensive line if they want their new franchise face to survive longer than David Carr. Watson has the legs and smarts to manage when things collapse around him, but he could be much better if he wasn’t running for his life every other down.
If the Texans didn’t fire their GM with no backup plan, fail to get their main guy, then roll into the season with the bold strategy of “GM by committee” with Bill O’Brien, a handful of front-office members, and the team chaplain, then I’d consider them the frontrunners. Seeing as they did indeed do all of that, it’s rather difficult to imagine they can get it all together for a trade. But if they did, it would be the smartest move of the offseason.
New England Patriots
As Howe reported in his tweet, the Patriots are expected to be involved in a trade for Williams. Aside from their deep love of trading mid-round draft picks for disgruntled veterans, New England is in need of a reliable left tackle after Trent Brown signed a hefty deal with the Raiders over the offseason. As it currently stands, the Patriots have experimented with 2018 first-round pick Isaiah Wynn at the position, and have shuffled in starting left guard Joe Thuney as well. But both of those players come with caveats; Thuney has only played guard in his NFL career, and Wynn is coming off a torn Achilles while having yet to play a regular-season snap. O-Line coach Dante Scarnecchia is as good as they come, but he can only do so much.
All of this lines up with their interest in Williams. Like with Michael Bennett earlier in the offseason, Williams would need to agree to a contract restructuring that would convert salary to signing bonus in order to fit him under the cap. But in exchange for the chance to come play for the Patriots, the antithesis of everything the Redskins are all about as a franchise, it wouldn’t be a tough choice. Williams would be an instant-impact guy and would be an improvement on a very good year by Brown last season. They’ll take the deal if they see the terms to be reasonable.
For the first time in a very long time, everyone loves and is excited about the Browns. For good reason, too; after a busy offseason, Cleveland has immense talent on both sides of the ball and an up-and-coming QB under center. The interior of their offensive line was a strength last year, but they couldn’t find a consistent answer at left tackle last season following the retirement of stalwart Joe Thomas. Right now, they have Greg Robinson at the top of the depth chart, and while he’s reportedly been good in camp… come on. The former No. 2 pick hasn’t caught on anywhere in five years for a reason.
Williams would be a substantial upgrade, and most importantly would prevent the various dangerous edge-rushers in the NFC North from flying around the corner and taking off Baker Mayfield’s head. The Browns are going all-in this season, and while their draft capital is lacking a bit after this offseason, sending off a third-rounder for an elite left tackle is a worthwhile investment– especially for a franchise that has finally found their quarterback after nearly two decades of desperate searching. Make the call, Cleveland.