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The Redskins absolutely should - and shouldn't - look to trade Trent Williams

The Redskins absolutely should - and shouldn't - look to trade Trent Williams

When Jay Gruden spoke publicly about the contract holdout of star left tackle Trent Williams, the Redskins head coach looked like his best friend just moved away. 

It's easy to understand why, too. Williams represents the intersection of Washington's best, most skilled player and probably the most important guy on the team as well. 

So with the news that Williams wants a new contract or a trade - despite having two years remaining on his current deal - the Redskins need to consider all their options. On the field, Williams makes a tremendous difference, but that can cut both ways. 

There is an argument to make that the Redskins can and should look to trade Williams right now, while the organization can still recoup reasonable trade value. The flip side, however, says Washington would be nuts to move on from Williams. Below is an examination of both sides:

The Redskins should trade Trent Williams

Though he's made the last seven Pro Bowls, Williams hasn't played a full 16-game season since 2013 and will turn 31 years old next month. As the injuries continue to pile up for Williams, his durability has slipped, and he's missed nearly 30 percent of Redskins' games the last two seasons.

Washington can't afford to put more guaranteed money towards Williams, no matter how good he is, and the team would be best served to get something in return in the form of draft picks. In 2018, Pro Football Focus gave Williams his lowest grade since his rookie season, and that could be a harbinger of things to come as the toll of playing elite offensive line for a decade adds up. If Williams wants out, now is the time for Washington to move on. The team can create some cap room and add draft picks towards the actual rebuild that is needed on their offense. 

The Redskins would be crazy to trade Trent Williams

He's their best player, a locker room leader, and the Redskins have absolutely no suitable option after Williams. Ereck Flowers has been a mess in the brief time he's played for Washington, and with Ty Nsekhe now playing for the Buffalo Bills, Williams has the 'Skins over a barrel. Pay up, even if that means just a few additional million guaranteed in 2019, to appease the 7-time Pro Bowler.

The Redskins drafted Dwayne Haskins 15th overall with the intention of playing him at some point this year. Playing Haskins without Williams would be criminal. And sure, Williams has dealt with a number of injuries the last few seasons, but 80 percent of Trent is better than most of the NFL. 

Prediction

Trent Williams wants some more cash and realizes the Redskins are in a terrible situation without him. He's also a veteran that probably doesn't mind missing practice time in June and July, especially after a health scare earlier this year that resulted in scalp surgery. Ultimately, Williams is not the type of competitor to miss actual games, or game checks, and he will return to the Redskins well before the team heads to Philadelphia for Week 1.

The team might work to find some additional guaranteed cash this year or next to sweeten the mood for Williams, but it won't be a restructured deal and won't add additional years to his contract. 

Postscript

There are a few things for Redskins fans to be cognizant of if the Williams contract saga really begins to linger. Asked about the situation, one league source called Williams "severely underpaid." And despite his $13.2 million salary for 2019, he's got just the ninth-highest salary for an offensive lineman.

Complicating matters, two of the players that will make more this year than Williams are guards, and the highest paid linemen in the NFL is actually a right tackle. Why does that matter? Left tackle is the most important position on the offensive line, and eventually, a left tackle will again command the top of the O-line salary list. As if this situation needed one more complicating ingredient, the Redskins are also working on a contract extension with right guard Brandon Scherff. Market economics suggest that Scherff will command somewhere around Cowboys guard Zach Martin's new deal. So, that would mean Scherff makes more than Williams. Yes, at 27, Scherff is younger, but he plays a less important position than Williams and the former Hawkeye has never hit the truly elite levels of play as the former Sooner. Scherff has been really, really good, but Williams has shown greatness. These are just things to watch if the holdout actually drags on, but worth noting all the same.

Silver lining: A new deal for Scherff with a big signing bonus would actually free up some cash to give Williams now. 

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    The Redskins chose not to pay Jamison Crowder, and their offense is now paying for that

    The Redskins chose not to pay Jamison Crowder, and their offense is now paying for that

    Jamison Crowder's final season with the Redskins was injury-shortened and disappointing, so when the team ultimately let him leave and sign a three-year, $28.5 million contract with the Jets, there wasn't much pushback.

    When Crowder takes the field this Sunday for the Washington-New York matchup, however, plenty of people on the home side will likely wish the receiver was doing so in Burgundy and Gold as opposed to Gotham Green.

    The fifth-year pro has 48 catches in 2019 so far, which is 16 more than the Redskins' top target, Terry McLaurin, has hauled in. And if you want to compare Crowder to Trey Quinn, the guy who mans the slot now that Crowder's gone, Crowder has twice as many catches and nearly 300 more yards (486 to 189) than his replacement.

    "Anytime we need a big play, he comes up with it," Jets coach Adam Gase said this week. "He's been very quarterback friendly."

    Crowder will never be someone who generates a ton of game-changing plays — his yards-per-catch this year is 10.1 and his career average is 11.6 — but quarterback friendly is a perfect way to describe his game and it's a valuable quality, too.

    His catch rate, for example, is 73.8-percent, a number that reflects how well he gets open and how much trust his signal callers have in him.

    For an offense like Washington's, a unit that hasn't found the end zone in a month, one that is incapable of sustaining drives and one that's devoid of any dangerous wideouts beyond McLaurin, Crowder would make an enormous difference.

    "Jamison, when he was here, was productive, outstanding," Bill Callahan told reporters on Thursday. 

    Of course, the Redskins didn't just carelessly allow Crowder to depart without having a plan in place to fill in for him. They didn't want to compensate him at that price level and instead hoped a younger draft pick would mitigate the loss, which is what organizations do all the time.

    Their plan, unfortunately, just hasn't succeeded.

    Jay Gruden and Ike Hilliard were supremely optimistic in Quinn's ability to step up in his second campaign and become a legit threat, and while Callahan praised Quinn's versatility and dependability on Thursday, he just hasn't emerged as any kind of difference maker.

    Quinn is far from the only pass catcher who's faltering for the Redskins, sure, but his catch rate is just 58.5-percent despite the fact that he's not running many deep routes. Coaches love his reliable hands, yet those hands aren't translating into enough completions.

    Crowder likely won't have that issue in his return to FedEx Field in Week 11, by the way. Greg Manusky's defense allows an NFL-high 78.9-percent completion rate to slot receivers, and No. 82 is coming in off of two strong efforts.

    That means you can expect Crowder to stand out versus his old teammates, while also reminding the franchise as a whole of a very simple truth: You get what you pay for. Washington chose not to pay for Crowder, and now, their slogging offense is largely paying for that choice.

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    It's time for Dwayne Haskins to start matching the production of his rookie QB peers

    It's time for Dwayne Haskins to start matching the production of his rookie QB peers

    The Redskins made Dwayne Haskins the third quarterback taken in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft when Washington selected the former Ohio State star 15th overall. 

    So far, he's only got one start, and the numbers were pedestrian. He completed 68 percent of his passes with no touchdowns or interceptions though he ended up with just 144 pass yards. The Redskins didn't give Haskins many chances to throw the ball downfield, and besides that, there was a fierce wind blowing in Buffalo that day which hampered both offenses. 

    That said, it's time to let Haskins take some chances. A quick glance around the NFL shows that Kyler Murray and Daniel Jones are both averaging more than 220 pass yards-per-game, but so is Gardner Minshew, the only other rookie QB with at least two starts.

    Here's a look at those three quarterbacks numbers so far this year:

    • Kyler Murray (1st overall) | 64 percent completion, 12 TDs, 5 INTs, 255 pass yards-per-game | 3-6-1 in 10 starts
    • Daniel Jones (6th overall) | 63 percent completion, 15 TDs, 8 INTs, 220 pass yards-per-game | 2-6 in 8 starts
    • Gardner Minshew (178th overall) | 61 percent completion, 13 TDs, 4 INTs, 254 pass yards-per-game | 4-4 in 8 starts

    Based on the data, the numbers actually look fairly similar. All three rookie passers with significant experience are able to move the ball and score TDs, and none are throwing that many interceptions. 

    For Haskins, it's tough to extrapolate too much from his first two appearances. He was bad in both, throwing four interceptions in just 22 pass attempts. But both games were relief appearances  - against the Giants and the Vikings - and came on the road with his team trailing. 

    Sunday's contest against the Jets should look quite different. It's Haskins' first-ever start at FedEx Field, his second start of the year, and against a Jets defense that allowed Jones to throw more than 300 yards with four TDs last week. 

    Jones, Minshew and Murray all impressed in their second start of the season:

    • Kyler Murray (Week 2 loss @ Baltimore) - 25 of 40 for 62.5 percent | 0 TDs 0 INTs | 349 pass yards
    • Daniel Jones (Week 4 win vs Redskins) - 23 of 31 for 74 percent | 1 TD 2 INTs | 225 yards
    • Gardner Minshew ( Week 3 win vs Titans)  - 20 of 30 for 66.6 percent | 2 TDs 0 INTs | 204 yds

    Right or wrong, the bar has been set low for Haskins amid early season reports he was having trouble learning the offense and getting coaches trust. Haskins denied any of that, but on Sunday, it won't matter.

    By the Jets game, Haskins will have been the Redskins QB1 for more than three weeks. He's talked about his growth in the offense and the coaches have too. This will be his second start and he's had two weeks to prepare for the New York defense.  

    It's time for Haskins to put up some numbers, at least on par with what other rookie passers have done so far this year. The young passer seems ready for the moment, he just needs to seize it. 

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