Tom Brady announced via social media that he's leaving the Patriots. Let that sink in, even with all the craziness in the world, Brady will no longer play for New England.
It's nuts, but now the page will turn and the question becomes where will Brady play next.
On NFL Network, former Browns tackle Joe Thomas suggested that Brady could land with the Chargers, and that would require some improvements along the offensive line.
"Don’t be surprised about a trade and a new extension with Trent Williams," Thomas said. "When you’ve got an older quarterback who doesn’t move like a Tom Brady, you want to make sure you can lock him up and protect him from that blindside spot."
Pressed if Thomas' prediction was speculative or informed, the former 10-time Pro Bowl tackle explained he's always informed when it comes to offensive line play.
"Trent Williams would be absolutely the perfect guy to marry with Tom Brady," Thomas said.
Right now the Chargers have about $44 million in salary cap space, so the team would need to create some room to add both Brady and Williams. While Brady has never demanded market top salary, reports have shown that Williams wants to be the highest paid tackle in the league, which could come with a $18 million cost. Of course, maybe Williams would agree to some delayed compensation if it meant a chance at a title run with Brady in Los Angeles or other ways to make the contracts work.
What would the Chargers give up to get Williams, and what would the Redskins want in a trade?
Los Angeles holds one pick each in Rounds 1 through 7 of the NFL Draft, including the 6th overall selection. Their second-rounder, the 37th overall pick, could be ideal compensation for Washington as the Redskins don't hold a second-round pick right now.
Perhaps a little more interesting, however, could be a player swap.
Thomas explained that to get a Williams deal done in Los Angeles would require some salary "cap shenanigans because Trent Williams would clearly probably be the highest paid offensive linemen in the NFL." One way for the Chargers to create cap room for Williams could be moving a player under contract, and the team used the franchise tag for tight end Hunter Henry.
Durability has been a major issue for Henry, who missed all of the 2018 season and hasn't played a 16-game season in four years as a Charger, but he's also highly talented and physical when he's on the field. Washington has a major hole at tight end and the team watched Austin Hooper sign with the Browns on Monday. There won't be another player with Henry's ability available, and he's only 25.
The tag guarantees Henry $10.6 million for the 2020 season, and Washington would only be interested in a trade if the team could work out a long-term deal with the 2016 second-round pick. Financially, it could help both teams.
The Redskins have the cap room and a need for a top flight tight end, and would be moving $12.5 million off the books by trading Williams. The Chargers would clear up more than $10 million in space by shipping out Henry. Trading a draft pick wouldn't do that for Los Angeles.
Even with the report and some logical trade components, a move like this is hardly a guarantee.
Consider this though: Williams made every Pro Bowl from 2012 to 2018. Thomas made every Pro Bowl from 2007 to 2016. There is plenty of overlap there for two players that for years were considered the two best tackles in the NFL. Odds are the two men know each other and Thomas isn't pulling this prediction out of thin air.
Still, Los Angeles must work out a new deal with Williams, which his representatives have permission to do, and appease the Redskins with draft compensation. It's not an easy road, and reports have suggested that some teams are balking at the prices involved.
Thomas seems like a confident man though, and much of it will come down to what happens with former Patriots QB.
"[Brady] knows his protection from his left side is probably the most important spot and Trent Williams would absolutely shore that position up."
Tom Brady finishing his career in LA does sound like something that could happen. Trent Williams blocking for Tom Brady sounds like something that could happen too. Stay tuned.
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