To begin, the Redskins will not adequately replace Trent Williams in free agency. It just won't happen. Williams made seven straight Pro Bowls before sitting out the 2019 season, and if he played on better teams earlier in his career, he could be on a Hall of Fame trajectory. He still might.
Simply put, Williams is a star, and those guys are hard, if not impossible, to replace.
That said, it seems highly likely that Williams won't play for the Redskins this fall as the organization gave his agent Vincent Taylor permission to pursue a trade on Thursday. A new contract should get Williams back on the field, and that will happen in a new city.
So for Washington that means finding a new left tackle, and fortunately for the Redskins, free agency and the draft will provide options. Let's take a look:
- Jason Peters - The Eagles intend to let the nine-time Pro Bowler test free agency, and that could mean a trip south to Washington. Peters has been a terrific player, but he turned 38 in January. Peters has dealt with plenty of injuries over the years but has played full 16 game seasons in two of the past four years, and started 13 games in 2019. This will be a pricy rental, not a long-term answer.
- Anthony Castonzo - He might not even hit free agency as the the Colts made clear during the NFL Combine they want to bring back their left tackle rather than let him leave via free agency. Indy also has a incredible amount of salary cap space available, so they can offer Castonzo a lot of cash to stay. All of that said, if he makes it to free agency, he might be the best left tackle option on the board.
- The draft - Ron Rivera has been very clear he will play rookies, and has a long track record of putting first-year guys on the field in Carolina. Washington won't take a tackle with the second overall pick, that's just too pricey of real estate with Chase Young and Tua Tagovailoa likely on the board, but that doesn't mean they won't draft a tackle. Depending what trading Williams bring back in return for the Redskins, the team will have options. This is one of the deepest tackle drafts in recent memory, players like Boise State's Ezra Cleveland, Houston's Josh Jones or even USC's Austin Jackson will likely last until the late first round or early in the second round. Washington does have a third-round pick, and guys like Matt Peart from UConn, Lucas Niang from TCU or even Ben Bartch from tiny St. John in Minnesota could make sense with the 66th pick.
- Geron Christian - A Redskins third-round pick in 2018, Christian suited up for all 16 games last year. The only problem is Christian hasn't really produced when given opportunities. In fact, last year when Williams held out, Christian could have seized the chance to take over as the Redskins left tackle. He didn't, and the team had to sign Donald Penn. One of the biggest issues for Christian seems to be upper body strength, but now in his third year as a pro, maybe that will catch up to his athleticism and size.
- Donald Penn - This isn't the prettiest option but Penn played all 16 games for the Redskins last year in Williams' absence. He's available. Penn will turn 37 in April.
- Dennis Kelly - A huge and versatile offensive lineman that stands 6-foot-8 and played in 15 games for the Titans last year, Kelly will be available and perhaps affordable. He also has positional versatility which Ron Rivera has talked about as a feature he loves in his players. Jack Conklin, Kelly's Titans teammate, will be the higher priority in free agency but plays right tackle. Kelly is 30 year's old.
- Brandon Scherff - No. Stop. Also, he's not even under contract right now.
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