INDIANAPOLIS— Trent Williams met with new Redskins coach Ron Rivera “face to face” according to a new report from The Washington Post.
The meeting is yet another sign of progress between the team and Williams, a very talented player that held out all of 2019.
That situation was complex, as Williams dealt with a serious health problem that he felt the organization‘s medical staff didn’t treat properly. On top of that, Williams lost trust with former team president Bruce Allen.
Well, the medical staff has been overhauled and Allen is gone. Williams beat his cancer scare, on his own, and is ready to play football again.
Now, the biggest remaining hurdle for Williams to return to the Redskins looks to be money.
A seven-time Pro Bowler slotted to make nearly $13 million this season, Williams has no guaranteed money in the deal. That means should he get injured, the team could cut him and owe nothing.
Williams made clear his contract should contain guaranteed money when he spoke to reporters last fall. And more than likely, Williams doesn’t just want guarantees for 2020, but for 2021 and maybe beyond.
That puts Rivera and the Redskins at a busy intersection.
It makes sense to reconcile with Williams. But does it make sense to pay Williams?
He will turn 32 this July and hasn’t played a full season since 2015. Sure, he sat out all of 2019 so his body should be well-rested, but it’s also one more year older for a player that has pushed his body through a number of injuries.
A few weeks ago Rivera made the decision to release veteran cornerback Josh Norman. It wasn’t hard to do, Norman’s production didn’t come close to his salary, yet when the Redskins coach talked about the move he said it was to get younger.
Signing an extension with Williams is not getting younger, and it’s hard to see Williams coming back without one.
It’s also possible Rivera will look at his roster, and the state of the NFC East and the possibility of a third NFC Wild Card being introduced this season, and think that his revamped Redskins squad can compete for a playoff spot.
Williams would make the team significantly more competitive on the field. That’s certain.
There is also the matter of paying Brandon Scherff, the Redskins talented right guard. Washington could use a franchise tag on Scherff, and that would come with a $15 million price tag. Expect that figure to also serve as the average annual salary baseline for multi-year contract talks with his representatives.
Can the Redskins afford to have nearly $30 million tied up in two offensive linemen? At 28, Scherff is younger than Williams but the guard has also dealt with injuries the last three seasons.
It’s great that Rivera understood the importance of engaging Williams and working to rebuild his trust with the organization. Truly, it was a smart and solid move for the team.
Like most things in life, however, the pleasantries become largely irrelevant when money frames the conversation.
And be clear about this: The road to Williams’ return in Burgundy and Gold will need to be paved in guaranteed cash.
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