The Washington Redskins have landed right back where they were in the fall: looking for a trade partner who wants to pay what they desire for left tackle Trent Williams. But after allowing Williams' side to talk to other teams, their ability to strike a deal could accelerate. However, the Redskins aren't inclined to just give him away.
The Redskins gave Williams the right to seek a trade last week. With free agency beginning March 18, activity could pick up over the next week. Otherwise, the next deadline to watch becomes the 2020 NFL draft.
Here's a primer on Williams' situation:
Interested teams: In the fall, the Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots were among teams that expressed interest. But Houston traded for Miami's Laremy Tunsil instead. New England's interest, one source said at the time, waned upon learning the financial cost of acquiring Williams. The Browns still have a glaring need at tackle. The New York Jets reportedly have interest as well. One source said it would be shocking if Houston doesn't get involved again -- as The Athletic reported was a possibility -- but that would require moving Tunsil to right tackle while at the same time trying to extend him, paying him perhaps a comparable amount to Williams. The Minnesota Vikings need an upgrade at left tackle and, as one league source said, could be in that "closing window of opportunity." But, the Vikings have $750,000 in available salary-cap room.
Trade value: While the Redskins would love a first-round pick in return for Williams, it is difficult to imagine it happening. Multiple sources said Washington did not receive such an offer for Williams last year. Instead, several league sources predicted the Redskins' haul would vary from one second-round pick to a third-rounder plus a future choice. In 2017, Seattle traded a third-round choice plus a future second to Houston for left tackle Duane Brown and a fifth-rounder. The Redskins likely would be happy to receive similar compensation. But one difference: Brown didn't sign an extension until 2018. It's hard to imagine a team surrendering a higher draft pick for Williams without first reaching a deal on an extension. The Redskins would also consider a player in return. The Vikings, for example, could offer receiver Stefon Diggs, a friend of Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins, but every indication from Minnesota has him staying put. After trading two first-rounders in the Tunsil deal, Houston might be reluctant to part with another high choice. But one source said not having a general manager could prompt Houston to abandon a big-picture approach. The Texans also drafted tackle Tytus Howard in the first round last year and must worry about extending quarterback Deshaun Watson. It is uncertain if the Texans have contacted Williams' side as of yet.
Washington OT Trent Williams has been given permission to seek a trade through his agent Vincent Taylor, as @diannaESPN has reported. Here is video of Williams working out this week. pic.twitter.com/FwAeT5ELMO— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 5, 2020
Redskins hold firm: The Redskins won't just give Williams away, accepting pennies on the dollar for a seven-time Pro Bowler. While they can and will question Williams' true motives in this situation, nobody will dispute his talent. A workout video of Williams posted on Twitter last week should only remind other teams that he hasn't lost his athleticism after sitting out a year. If a team offers only a fourth-round pick, there's little incentive to make that deal -- unless the Redskins reach a breaking point come draft time. If there's a repeat of last season -- when Williams didn't play, only to show up and eventually be placed on a non-football injury list -- he would be free to sign with another team in the 2021 offseason. And Washington would get perhaps a third- or fourth-round compensatory pick in 2022. In other words, the Redskins would want to get a deal done now. Of course, the compensatory pick assumes the Redskins would not have signed a player of similar value, thereby negating the extra choice. But it does explain why they won't jump at any offer.
What if there's no trade: It is a possibility. Once a financial deal is agreed upon, then the other team must satisfy the Redskins' trade demands. Otherwise, it's back to the beginning. And it could end up being like last summer, wondering if Williams would report. However, if he sits out another year, Williams might be hard pressed to receive the sort of financial deal he wants in 2021. And by sitting out two consecutive years, Williams would have left more than $24 million on the table. The other risk remains a fan base, and owner Dan Snyder, who are drained by this situation. The Redskins don't want to make a bad decision simply because a previous regime failed to trade him. One key will be Snyder's patience, not to mention coach Ron Rivera's, and the true desire on whether to move on from Williams. Also, the Redskins could use the franchise tag on Williams after next season, leading to an eventual trade or simply prolonging the situation.
Draft impact: There are a handful of teams drafting in the top 15 who could use a tackle. It's a deep draft at the position, too. But none are considered as talented as Williams. If the price tag becomes a second-round pick, teams will have to weigh his production and contract against a player taken in that round. Williams made seven consecutive Pro Bowls before missing the 2019 season. Also, Cleveland, for example, has to factor in if a tackle available at No. 10 is the player it wants. Otherwise, the Redskins certainly hope, the Browns could use a second-round pick to get Williams and opt for the best-player-available route with their first pick. Williams' former line coach in Washington, Bill Callahan, now has a similar role with Cleveland.
Decreasing the value: Teams will consider Williams' age (32 in July), durability (15 missed games because of injuries and one four-game suspension from 2015 to '18) and contract demands. The belief among several league sources has been that Williams wants top-of-the-market tackle money; Philadelphia Eagles tackle Lane Johnson, at $18 million per year, currently tops that list. Teams will insist that's a lot to pay while also giving up a pick (or two). The Redskins, of course, would balk at that logic. Breaking that stalemate will determine how fast a deal can be reached.