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A week into training camp and no Trent Williams - could a trade actually happen?

A week into training camp and no Trent Williams - could a trade actually happen?

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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Cardale Jones and the DC Defenders ready to kick off an updated XFL

Cardale Jones and the DC Defenders ready to kick off an updated XFL

The reboot is almost here. 

The second edition of the XFL, the infamous football league brought to you by WWE founder Vince McMahon for a memorable, combustible one-year run in 2001, begins play in February. It is a second chance for the league and for the players who’ve joined, including former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones.

Jones is the quarterback for the DC Defenders, Washington’s newest pro franchise that will play its home games at D.C. United’s Audi Field. The first game isn’t until February 8 after the NFL’s season concludes with the Super Bowl, but the organization opened its offseason camp at the University of Maryland’s Cole Field House indoor facility on Thursday. The debut is just over two months away. 

“I love it. It’s pretty cool to be part of something that’s going to be a first, a historical moment of the return [of the XFL] and to be in [the D.C.] area,” Jones said. “Hopefully not just me, but this team can leave a lasting impression.”

It remains to be seen how much of an impact the Defenders will make on a crowded winter sports scene with the NHL’s Capitals and NBA’s Wizards playing and the World Series champion Nationals starting their title defense just across the street from Audi Field in April just as the XFL plays its final two games and its two playoff rounds. 

Jones, of course, led Ohio State to the national championship in 2014 when he came off the bench to replace two injured starters and led the Buckeyes to wins in the Big 10 championship game and two more in the college football playoffs. He started seven games in 2015 as a redshirt junior, but lost his job and turned pro after that season. 

Part of the appeal of the XFL is to get another shot at an NFL opportunity. Jones was drafted in the fourth round by the Buffalo Bills in 2016 and made his debut in a game late that season. He was traded to the Los Angeles Chargers in 2018 and spent that year on the practice squad. Jones was with the Seattle Seahawks this summer and again cut from the practice squad in September.  

“My focus is strictly on the XFL and the DC Defenders, nothing more, nothing less,” Jones said. “I do have long-term goals and aspirations, but all of them consist of being a better player and teammate to this franchise and this organization.”

Pep Hamilton is the head coach and general manager of the Defenders. Quarterback at Howard in the early 1990s, Hamilton has spent 10 years coaching in the NFL and was most recently the assistant head coach and passing game coordinator at Michigan. 

That drew a laugh from Jones, who was going back and forth with Hamilton to set up a meeting after the Defenders’ roster was announced. Hamilton still has a home in Ann Arbor so that’s where Jones, the ultimate Ohio State guy, had to go. 

“Right around the corner from the University,” Jones cracked. “So I had to drive past the Big House every freakin’ time I’d go up there. Monday through Wednesday I’d have to go past there.”

Jones laughed and said he was driving through campus one day and saw some players he recognized wearing Michigan gear. He yelled out the car window “O-H!” and sped past them cackling. Every workout Jones makes sure he has his Ohio State cleats on and Hamilton wears his Michigan shoes. 

Jones, Hamilton and the rest are all on the same team now, though, and it will take lots of repetitions throughout the offseason for players from colleges all over the country to come together and form a cohesive group. There isn’t much time. Walk throughs and team meetings began this week and continue into next week. Then come OTAs next weekend and finally a two-day minicamp on Dec. 16-17. 

“This is going to be interesting,” Jones said. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. I sense a great buzz. We did a couple of appearances and some meet-and-greets with the fans and I was shocked by the response that we got and how excited people are around the city. It’s football all year round.” 

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Nate Orchard was installing windows prior to signing with the Redskins

Nate Orchard was installing windows prior to signing with the Redskins

A week ago, many Redskins fans were not familiar with the name Nate Orchard. But after No. 54's exceptional performance in the Redskins' Week 13 victory over Carolina, he's turned into a feel-good story in an otherwise tough season in Washington.

As many Redskins fans know by now, Orchard was signed just days before the Week 13 game. Due to injuries to linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat, as well as Ryan Anderson being ejected, Orchard was forced to play meaningful snaps towards the end of Sunday's victory. He finished with a sack, recovering a fumble, and two tackles for loss in the win.

The former star on HBO's Hard Knocks while he was with the Cleveland Browns had worked out for 10 (!!) teams this season, but none chose to sign Orchard until Washington did last week. It makes sense why he was so emotional postgame.

So, how was Orchard spending his time before joining the Burgundy and Gold? 

Orchard, who spent most Mondays and Tuesdays this season working out for NFL teams, was installing windows in Utah a few days during the week, according to 106.7 The Fan.

"A typical week for me, I would leave for a workout Monday, get back Tuesday night," Orchard said on 106.7's Grant and Danny"Wednesday morning, I'd hit the gym early, then go and install windows from 7 [o'clock] until about 3 [o'clock], then come back to my family and rest up. [I would] repeat that Thursday and Friday."

Orchard admitted that he questioned whether he should continue to train and wait for a call, but says his wife encouraged him to stay motivated and continue to workout.

They say hard work pays off, and Orchard's whirlwind of a season thus far ended up being very rewarding for him this past Sunday.

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