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5 theories why Trent Williams might change his mind and rejoin the Redskins

5 theories why Trent Williams might change his mind and rejoin the Redskins

Nobody knows what Trent Williams is going to do. Nobody, except maybe Trent Williams. 

In the weeks and months since Williams did not report to the Redskins there have been many reports and even more rumors, but never an official word or statement from the seven-time Pro Bowl tackle. That’s led to more speculation and the occasional official rebuttal from the Redskins organization, but largely it’s been guesswork. 

Plenty of sources close to Williams have explained to NBC Sports Washington and others that this situation would not end before Week 1, and that his prolonged absence could last well into the regular season. So far, that’s true. 

Now, a new report from Williams' former teammate DeAngelo Hall suggests Williams could be back “sooner rather than later.” That comes one day after Washington head coach Jay Gruden pronounces he’s become “numb” to the Williams situation and has no expectations when it will end. 

The question, however, is when is "soon?" If Williams did change his mind and plans on rejoining the Redskins, the biggest question is why. What has changed? 

These are some guesses, some educated and some just common sense, as to what might have changed. To be clear, none of these should be taken as reported fact. Let's take a look:

  1. He's healthy - Throughout Williams' absences this summer, his health was a major question. Williams was dealing with a growth on his head, and had at least one cosmetic surgery to clean up the scar. It was reported that Williams would not have been medically cleared for training camp, and if that was the case, why would he show up? Now, NFL Network reported that Williams is healthy and ready to go. If he's ready, maybe now is the time to return. 
  2. He misses football and game checks - Trent Williams has played football professionally for a decade, and probably in some capacity his entire life. He's one of the 100 best players in the NFL, as voted on by his peers, and he's the best player the Redskins have. It's entirely possible he didn't want to work out in the heat of Richmond for training camp, and not deal with minicamp, but once real football starts, Williams wants to be on the field with his teammates. It also helps that he stands to make more than $600,000 per game, and if he doesn't play, he doesn't get those checks. That's not to suggest Williams needs the money, but when the options are making $600,000 or not making $600,000, most people would choose the cash. 
  3. Bruce called his bluff - There is ample reporting to suggest Trent Williams wanted off the Redskins. There is also ample evidence from team officials that the Redskins were never going to trade Williams. Maybe the player thought the team was bluffing, and would eventually move on. That never happened, or at least it hasn't yet, and with major trades for Laremy Tunsil and Jadaveon Clowney already finished, the time for blockbuster trades might have passed. If Trent believes that, he might think his only option to play this fall is in Washington, and thus it's time to report. 
  4. C.R.E.A.M. - Many inside the Redskins organization think Williams' holdout was about money. If it was, and now he's coming back, maybe there has been some assurance more money is coming. The Redskins have a hard rule that they won't work on contracts until the final year of a deal, but perhaps the front office told Williams that if he returns in 2019, there could be contract talks coming in January 2020. The left tackle has two seasons left on his deal, but in four short months, he will be in the final year of his contract. 
  5. Staff change - If Trent Williams was really upset at the Redskins medical staff, maybe the organization made a staff change or a procedural change. That doesn't necessarily mean somebody got fired, but maybe personnel got reassigned or new standards have been implemented. If these types of moves happened, it's also entirely possible that news never goes public, but it could be something that means a lot to Williams. 

 

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Ron Rivera might not say it outright but it sounds like Washington is Dwayne Haskins' team

Ron Rivera might not say it outright but it sounds like Washington is Dwayne Haskins' team

Ron Rivera refuses to name Dwayne Haskins the starting quarterback for the Washington Football Team, but listening to the coach's comments about the second-year passer, it sure sounds like it's Haskins job. 

"He’s done a great job of studying, preparing and getting himself ready for this. He’s been great," Rivera said Tuesday morning. "He’s been on the field, doing the things we’ve asked of him. He’s done the extra stuff that he and I talked about in the offseason. He’s done the things that, I think, puts him right there where he needs to be at this junction of where we are in our training, having only been able to do zoom and now only having four days of work on the field."

Much has been made about veteran QB Alex Smith's return from injury. 

Smith's story has been incredible, working his way back from a compound fracture in his leg and 17 surgeries as his body was ravaged by infection. Now Smith is able to work out with trainers at the Washington practice facilities for multiple days without setbacks. It's a remarkable story. 

But there are still major hurdles for Smith to get back on the field, not the least of which is clearing a football physical from the Washington doctors.

"For him, it’s really just a matter of, can he do the movements he needs to do?" Rivera said. "Can he protect himself when he’s on the field more so than anything else?"

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There's another important element to point out and that's the advantage - real or perceived - that Kyle Allen has over Haskins.

Allen started nine games for Rivera and new Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner last season in Carolina, and found some success. The Panthers won Allen's first four starts, and in those games, he threw no interceptions. Conversely, Carolina lost the last six games Allen started and he threw 11 picks in those contests. 

RELATED: RIVERA PLEASANTLY SURPRISED BY ALEX SMITH IN CAMP

Earlier this offseason Rivera suggested that Allen could have a "leg up" on Haskins based on knowledge of Turner's system. Asked on Tuesday if Haskins still trailed in that department, Rivera did not seem concerned. 

"I don’t think Dwayne is very far behind, I really don’t."

Rivera wants open competition across his football team. No player gets named starter, rather that player earns the job. Sure sounds like Haskins is doing just that when it comes to the starting quarterback spot. 

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With the way Alex Smith has looked so far, Ron Rivera 'can envision' him being in the quarterback mix

With the way Alex Smith has looked so far, Ron Rivera 'can envision' him being in the quarterback mix

Positive reports about Alex Smith's early training camp performance came out over the weekend, and on a Tuesday morning Zoom call with the media, Ron Rivera echoed those reviews.

"He's looked good, he really has," the head coach said. "I'll be honest, I was pleasantly surprised to see how far along he is. It's been exciting to watch his progression."

According to Rivera, Smith has been working off to the side with Washington Football Team trainers at the Ashburn facility and is mirroring what Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen are doing, too. Coordinator Scott Turner and QBs coach Ken Zampese are apparently involving Smith as much as they can, and Smith is looking "very fluid" so far.

"It's a tribute to who he is, it's a tribute to his trainers and his doctors who have helped him get where he is today," Rivera said.

That all, of course, is wildly encouraging. The fact that the 36-year-old is in a place where he can check off those boxes and do those activities is astounding. That can't be pointed out enough, either.

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Yet it's also fair to note just how different mimicking a starting signal caller and actually serving as the starting signal caller are. So, is there any real chance of Smith transitioning from that first phase to the second before the season? 

With what he's seen from the veteran so far, Rivera certainly believes there is.

"I can envision it," he said. "The big thing is if he can do the things that we need him to do, that he needs to do to help himself on the football field, he'll be part of the conversation most definitely. He did some really good things last week. He went through all four workout days, had no residual effect the next morning, which is always important because the next day usually tells.

"We'll see how he is this week and we'll go from there."

As Smith continues to rehab and try to make his way off PUP, the challenges are solely physical. Rivera is not worried at all about the veteran having to adjust to a new scheme or dealing with any other mental task; instead, the primary concern is ensuring that Smith can handle the contact that'll come if he makes it back into live action.

"I believe he already knows probably 75-percent of our playbook," Rivera said. "So for him, it's really just a matter of can he do the movements he needs to do? Can he protect himself when he's on the field?"

It feels like every time Smith is brought up, he's taken another step. The next one, however — going from the PUP list to the huddle — is particularly daunting.

But at this point, it's gotten pretty difficult to imagine anything being particularly daunting for Alex Smith. So don't be that floored if he makes it happen. Rivera clearly won't be. 

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