CLEVELAND -- Trent Williams does not intend to suit up for the Washington Redskins anytime soon and that includes regular season games, according to multiple sources close to the situation.
"He's not coming back. Period," said one source that had spoken directly to Williams.
Williams missed all of the Redskins offseason workouts and mandatory minicamp before no showing the team's two week training camp in Richmond. Thursday night the Redskins will begin their preseason in Cleveland against the Browns (6:30, NBCSW), and Williams won't be there either.
Sources explained that the situation is not all about money, rather his contract status along with the series of allegations that the seven-time Pro Bowl tackle has lost faith in the team's front office and medical staff. Still, money might be the only way to fix the holdout.
A reported plan that Washington could fine Williams enough for missing practices so that he would hurry back and report was "funny." Williams has made nearly $100 million in his career, and the threat of fines that could reach up to perhaps $500,000 are of small consequence to the veteran left tackle, sources explained.
There's also the threat of not being on the Redskins roster before Week 1, which means Williams' 2019 salary will no longer be fully vested. "Not a concern," according to those in the know.
Word from some inside the Redskins organization suggests that the holdup actually is all about money. How that could be fixed remains to be seen, but those with direct knowledge of the Williams' camp suggest a resolution would require a new deal. It's hard to envision a scenario where the Redskins would do a new deal, as it would set a new precedent for Bruce Allen to rework a contract that has two years remaining. Washington historically only works on extensions in the last year of a contract.
Former Redskins and Texans general manager Charley Casserly said on the Redskins Talk podcast that maybe Washington could move some 2020 money up to 2019, like Atlanta did with the Julio Jones holdout last year. The problem there is now the Falcons are back in an uneasy place with Jones and no new contract worked out.
"I think it is all about money," Casserly said (see above video). "The only way we'll know the truth to that is to have everybody in a room together. I personally don't buy, in his case because that's the only one I've studied, these allegations that are being made. I just don't buy it at all."
Williams has two years left on a contract that will pay him nearly $25 million. He signed that deal in 2015, which at the time was the richest contract for an NFL offensive lineman. In the years since he's been passed though he still ranks in the Top 10 of linemen salaries.
Early in training camp the Redskins offensive line looked like a train wreck without Williams. The team was forced to use Ereck Flowers at left tackle, and he showed why New York cut him last season. The plan was for Flowers to play left guard in Washington, ideally next to Williams, but that obviously hasn't worked out.
In the past week, however, things have started to stabilize. Second-year pro Geron Christian returned from injury, allowing Flowers to move inside to guard. The team also signed veteran left tackle Donald Penn. He has started more than 150 games as a left tackle in the NFL and three times made the Pro Bowl.
Nobody will replace Williams. Nobody. He's an elite talent. But a healthy competition between Christian and Penn will produce a legitimate NFL starter.
"What you have with Penn is a veteran that knows how to play the game. What does that mean? It's a guy who knows who he has to play against, what he has to do to block him, uses his hands well and uses his big body well. Can he hold up physically? That's a question. A question too is, the speed guys and the strength guys are going to give him some problems, but he was the best alternate to you to have a backup at this point in time," Casserly explained.
Since being drafted fourth overall in 2010, Williams has been a cornerstone of the Redskins franchise. That said, the 31-year-old hasn't played a full 16-game season since 2013.
More importantly for 2019, it doesn't sound like Williams will be playing anytime soon either.
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