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.
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.
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.
Need a reason Trent might want more money? Look at this list pic.twitter.com/je6ddFS92r— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) June 5, 2019
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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