RICHMOND -- Nearly 90 Redskins players logged four practice sessions last week, two with pads, and an additional four walkthrough sessions. The team got an earned day off on Monday, and Tuesday, the second block of training camp begins.
Training camp is no longer just beginning. It's started, and many players are already making impressions on the coaching staff and each other.
One player that isn't: Trent Williams.
The team's starting left tackle since 2010 is holding out from the Richmond practices and there is no real word on when he will return. There are plenty of competing rumors and stories about why Williams isn't with the team though, and over the weekend, the biggest report dropped yet.
CBS Sports reporter Jason La Canfora said that Williams and team president Bruce Allen had a fractured relationship and that Williams would not return to the team. Period. The team dubbed that report "100 percent false" and on Monday, La Canfora spoke with The Junkies and clarified his comments a bit.
"There’s always a way to change someone’s mind," the national NFL reporter said, hinting that maybe additional cash could shift the paradigm between the Redskins and Williams. (listen here)
Perhaps the biggest mystery in Williams' holdout is what can be done to fix it. If it's a financial issue, at least the Washington front office knows the problem. There are also reports that Williams is angry with the Redskins medical staff after a missed diagnosis on a growth on his scalp. If that's the case, a resolution is much trickier.
And the reality is probably that Williams' holdout is a result of both factors, and maybe he just wants to find a new team to play on. That's been reported at various times this offseason, and La Canfora reiterated that on the radio.
"I think he’s prepared to force a trade or find a way to take his talent elsewhere," he said.
At a certain point, this concept needs to be fully addressed. Maybe that time isn't now, but in an NFL offseason that saw Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown traded, it's silly to completely dismiss the idea. Elite players have been on the move within the last few months - Brown forced the trade and Beckham was caught off guard, but they were traded all the same.
Unfortunately for the Redskins, it's near impossible to get dollar for dollar value moving a player like Williams. He's just too good and has been for too long, to know that even high draft picks will ever hit the same level of play. There is also the 2019 season in Washington, which will undoubtedly suffer if Williams never wears Burgundy and Gold.
Bruce Allen isn't known for backing down to players -- see the three-year Kirk Cousins contract saga as a reference. Allen has pointed out that Williams is under contract for another two seasons and the team expects him to show up and honor that deal. The Redskins can still convert some of his 2020 salary to guaranteed money too, sweetening the pot for Williams.
Ultimately, that still seems most likely.
A meaningful football game isn't for another five weeks, and eventually, the allure of game checks and the appeal of the game he loves could be enough to get Williams back with the Redskins. Many around the building feel that way.
That also might not be enough. It's time to take a look at that situation too.
Williams has earned nearly $100 million in his career. It's entirely possible he doesn't need to come back to the NFL or will wait out the Redskins to the point where a trade is the best way out of this mess.
It still seems hard to fathom, the Redskins actually trading away Trent Williams, but not as hard as it did a week ago.
In a way, Williams' holdout is a game of chicken. In the early going, the big man has all the leverage, as Washington realizes it has no replacement for him on the roster.
But as August becomes September, and it's no longer grueling two-a-days in the Richmond sun and meaningless preseason games but rather the NFL opener and back-to-back NFC East division games, do the Redskins gain some leverage back? Will Williams really want to miss that?
If he does, if this holdout gets all the way to Labor Day, the Redskins need to consider their options. If they're not going to increase Williams' guaranteed cash or restructure his deal if more money is not an option, what are the options?
Hold off on real trade speculation - what teams are a fit and what the compensation would look like - because it's not the time for that yet. But after a week of practices and no sign of Williams, it might not be too far off either.
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