Trent Williams wants out of Washington. Fed up with both his contract and the Redskins’ handling of a tumor on his head, Williams demanded a trade or release in early June. He didn’t report to training camp last week, and there’s reportedly “no end in sight” to his holdout. On Wednesday, a report indicated the Redskins have begun having trade discussions regarding Williams.
The 31-year-old Williams is due $23.5MM in base salary over the next two seasons, but given that he wants a new deal from Washington, any club that acquires Williams will likely need to increase that figure. Williams’ $13.2MM average annual value currently ranks seventh among left tackles behind Taylor Lewan, Nate Solder, Jake Matthews, Joe Staley, Donovan Smith, and Russell Okung.
Which NFL teams are in a position to land Williams and fortify the left side of their offensive line? Here are four ideas:
Cleveland’s offensive line had some bright spots in 2018, especially at right guard and center, where Joel Bitonio and J.C. Tretter each ranked among the top-four at their position in ESPN’s pass block win rate. But the Browns are now counting on former failed No. 2 overall selection Greg Robinson for a full season’s worth of play, and they’re replacing Kevin Zeitler (who was traded to the Giants) with last year’s second-round pick in Austin Corbett, who played only 14 offensive snaps in his rookie campaign.
Robinson wasn’t a total disaster in his eight starts for the Browns, but among the 106 offensive tackles who saw at least 33% playtime in 2018, Robinson ranked only 60th in Pro Football Focus’ pass-blocking efficiency metric, which measures pressure allowed on a per-snap basis. Cleveland has already gone all-in on the upcoming season by acquiring Odell Beckham Jr., Sheldon Richardson, and Olivier Vernon, so why not send a draft choice to Washington in exchange for Williams and upgrade one of the few remaining weak areas on the Browns roster?
Despite using two of their first three 2019 draft picks on offensive tackles, the Texans still have arguably the second-worst offensive line in the NFL (hello, Dolphins). Rookies Tytus Howard and Max Scharping can both play tackle, while free agent addition Matt Kalil and holdover Julien Davenport can also hold down the blindside with varying results.
As Aaron Reiss of The Athletic indicates, it’s unclear how Houston plans to deploy its offensive linemen. Howard and Scharping could both see time at guard, leaving left tackle to Kalil if he’s healthy. No matter the combination used by the Texans, Williams would be an upgrade at left tackle. Houston picked up second- and third-round picks from Seattle in 2017 in exchange for tackle Duane Brown, and the team could send a similar package to Washington for Williams.
New England Patriots
In his Wednesday report indicating the Redskins are discussing possible Williams trades, Jeff Howe of The Athletic relayed there’s “a feeling around the league the Patriots would be involved due to depth issues at the position.” Having allowed 2018 starter Trent Brown to walk in free agency, New England is now counting on Isaiah Wynn, one of the club’s two first-round picks from a season ago, to fill on at left tackle.
Wynn comes with an excellent pedigree, and Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia always brings out the best in his available talent. But Wynn can also play guard, so if New England acquires Williams, it would be able to slide Wynn inside and allow Williams to play left tackle. Perhaps an offer of pending free agent left guard Joe Thuney and a second-round pick would entice the Redskins.
New York Jets
If not the Patriots, how about another AFC East club? Like the Browns and Texans, the Jets are building around a quarterback still on his rookie contract. Sam Darnold won’t count for more than $10MM on New York’s salary cap in any of the next three seasons, so the team should add talent while it can. Having already surrounded Darnold with playmakers like Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder, the Jets could now work to fortify their offensive line, something they started to do earlier today by bringing former Panthers center Ryan Kalil out of retirement.
In New York, Williams would supplant Kelvin Beachum, who has consistently been solid but not spectacular throughout his career. Beachum, in turn, could either compete with Brandon Shell for playing time at right tackle or be released. It’s also possible that another team on this list would have interest in Beachum, who is owed $8MM in 2019, the final year of his contract.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.