The Redskins declared zero intention of trading Trent Williams, but that doesn't mean other teams aren't trying.
Sources tell NBC Sports Washington that three teams have been actively pursuing the seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle, and while no deal is imminent, the calls aren't stopping. One of those teams is the New England Patriots, sources explained, and most of the heavy chasing of Williams is coming from AFC teams.
The news comes as Williams' holdout has now extended past the team's two-week training camp in Richmond and he missed the team's first preseason game last week in Cleveland. There is no indication Williams intends to report anytime soon and that could include missing regular season games, multiple sources close to Williams told NBCSW last week.
Those close to Williams say his issues with the Redskins run far beyond money, while those close to the team believe cash is the root issue. Williams is due nearly $25 million during the next two seasons, the last two years on a five-year, $66 million contract extension he signed in 2015. Neither 2019 or 2020 holds much guaranteed cash either.
On Monday night, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Redskins have gotten calls about Williams but maintain they will not move their franchise cornerstone. On the other hand, CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora tweeted out "Trent Williams will be traded. Only a matter of time."
The reality probably lands somewhere in the middle.
Of course, the Redskins will publicly state their utmost reluctance to move on from Williams. Of course they will. Jay Gruden did just that in Richmond, when he said he "highly doubts" the team would trade Williams.
What else are they supposed to say? Trading Williams seems crazy, a move that only a desperate team would make, a move that a team would only make if it truly believes that player won't report. And the second team president Bruce Allen and the Redskins blink and allow that Williams might actually not come back, their bargaining power shrinks. Not to mention, Williams is still under contract for two more seasons.
Just to consider moving Williams means Washington believes he really won't come back, or if he does, will no longer be an asset to the team. It's hard to envision a scenario where Allen does much to entice Williams to report. Perhaps the Redskins could convert some 2020 salary to guaranteed money right now, but Allen has made a stern policy of not working on new contracts until a player is in the final year of his deal. Williams isn't. And a new deal seems out of the question, for as good as Williams is, it might not be the prudent move. He is 31 and hasn't played a full season since 2013.
To move Williams, the Redskins need to command a haul in return. To do that, the team needs leverage and multiple suitors. By refusing to trade Williams now the team builds some leverage. They don't look desperate to move him. There are already multiple suitors, including New England, which was first reported nearly two weeks ago by The Athletic.
Peter King pointed out on Monday that the Texans should make a move for Williams: "I think the Texans need to trade for Washington left tackle Trent Williams, who is unhappy in Washington and threatening to not play this year. Houston’s time is now. Watt turns 30 this year. So much of this team is in its prime. They could get three or four more years out of Williams, who turns 31 next Monday, and he’d strengthen the only true weak point of this team."
There is also no rush for Washington to move Williams. Injuries will happen across the NFL during the next few weeks and a contending team could lose a tackle. That would drive the price up too.
"We won't get to Labor Day and Trent Williams is still a Redskin," one league source said of the situation.
Remember too that Allen often does his best work in secret. Last year, he shocked the NFL when the trade for Alex Smith went down during Super Bowl week. In fact, Doug Williams and Jay Gruden both admitted after that trade they knew nothing about the move until after it happened.
Allen also tends to work well with familiar teams. In the past few seasons, Allen has worked out two trades with Denver, one sending Su'a Cravens out of town in 2018 and another bringing Case Keenum into town in 2019. The Smith trade isn't the first deal Allen completed with Kansas City boss Andy Reid either. When Reid was the coach of the Eagles, Allen completed a deal to bring Donovan McNabb to Washington in 2010.
Real or contrived, the Redskins gain nothing by openly talking about a Williams trade right now. But that doesn't mean a move couldn't happen in the next few weeks.
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