Washington left tackle Trent Williams is skipping the team’s minicamp. Most would have assumed that his frustration would be due to a contract dispute. That was not the case. His frustration came from how the team’s medical staff dealt with a growth on his head that had to be surgically removed over the winter.
The situation gave Williams a scare, and now he wants out. He has demanded a trade or release. Williams has two more years left on his contract. Looking at Williams from a statistical standpoint, 2018 was a down year for him, but for the past near decade, Williams has been one of the top blind side protectors in the league. Some years he was the top.
Williams is a seven-time Pro Bowler. He has also been named to the All Pro team in the past. There have been many ideas for what it would take to net him in a trade.
Not very often does a player who is the top of their position become available, especially at left tackle. So, what would it take to get Williams in purple? There are a few things that make this situation interesting. With Williams basically pushing his way out the door, Washington does not have much leverage to hold out for the best deal. It will be in their best interest to get this done quickly, and not go into the season with this distraction lingering on the team.
If we look at situations that are like this in the past, there are a few that have come to mind. This past offseason, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown demanded a trade or release taking away the leverage from the organization by refusing to play in Pittsburgh. The Steelers played like they were going to hold strong, and not give in to just any old deal, but in the end, they folded for a deal with the Oakland Raiders. Brown, who has been at the top of his position for years, was traded to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for a third and a fifth-round draft pick in the upcoming draft, just over a month later.
Prior to the 2017 season, Houston Texans left tackle Duane Brown demanded a trade due to contract demands. D. Brown demanded to hold out and not participate in any team activities without a new contract, trade, or release. The final deal became Duane Brown, and a 2018 fifth-round pick, for a third-round pick in 2018, and a second-round pick in 2019. Brown was 31 years old at the time of his trade. Yes, D. Brown does have the position in common, but the Texans did have an opportunity to pay him and make it all go away. Antonio Brown’s case is more similar to Williams, being that he has demanded a trade saying that he did not want to play for that organization anymore.
So, looking at both deals, what would it would take to get Williams? Keep in mind, that Williams best years are behind him. His PFF grade has gone down in the last two seasons, peaking in 2016. Williams also has not played a full 16 games in five years. Trading resources and draft capital for a player that has had trouble staying on the field is a gamble. Knowing that risk, there are going to be multiple teams inquiring about Williams services, even with a few down years.
Could Rick Spielman call up Bruce Allen and get him to work out a deal prior to training camp?
Say Rick Spielman offers Riley Reiff, and a 2020 fourth-round pick, for Williams and a 2020 sixth-round pick. This would net Washington a left tackle back, who is currently the same age, and would be protecting a familiar face in newly acquired quarterback Case Keenum. He would also have a familiar face in former Iowa Hawkeye Brandon Scherff. This would also allow Washington to wash their hands of this situation as soon as possible and move on to training camp without a distraction in the locker room.
Yes, Williams finished with an offensive grade of 74.1, while Reiff finished right behind him in rankings, with a grade of 73.6, per PFF. It seems like a lot to give up for a small upgrade, but the Vikings front office would be banking on the thought that Williams could recapture the play that netted him the status of the leagues top blind side protector. In 2017, Williams ranked sixth in PFF grade, while in 2013 and 2016, he finished number one.
Reiff has already built comradery with this unit and has only missed a total of five games through his seven-year career. After watching Reiff from his time in Detroit, to here in Minnesota, we know what his ceiling is. Betting on Williams to recapture his All Pro form, is a bet I would be willing to make.
Time to make some phone calls Rick.