If he doesn’t sign a new contract Trent Williams could become a free agent in a little more than six months. But he doesn’t seem to be too concerned about the situation.
"I’m just not going to worry about it," he said on Tuesday. "It’s up at the end of the year, and as of right now I’ve just got to give Washington one of the best years of my career. That’s my focus, just being better than last year. The contract situation, it’ll work out. Hopefully. I don’t really have a say in that."
Of course, Williams actually does have a say in his contract. He could instruct his agent Tom Condon at any time to take whatever deal the Redskins have on the table at the time. But the smart thing to do is to let Condon handle things and, like most offensive linemen, Williams is smart.
Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan said recently that both the team and Williams would like to get a deal done. But the two sides are reportedly far apart and without a big breakthrough it seems likely that Williams will enter the season without a new deal.
The aspect of Williams’ situation that could be making it difficult to negotiate a deal is that he is already the fourth highest paid left tackle in the league. He has that deal as a member of the last draft class prior to the imposition of the rookie salary cap in 2011. His contract as the fourth pick of the 2010 draft is worth an average of $10 million per year (6 years/$60 million). So while Williams might expect a raise after three straight Pro Bowl selections, he is already living on some high-priced real estate.
The Cowboys’ Tryon Smith is the highest paid left tackle in the league with an average of $12.2 million per year. He is followed closely by Joe Thomas of the Browns at $11.5 million.
The key negotiating points in Williams’ deal may not be the average annual salary but important details such as how much money is paid up front and how much is fully guaranteed at signing.
The Redskins’ big leverage point in the negotiations is the franchise tag. Since they signed outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan to an extension last month they are free to use the tag on Williams. This year the tag for offensive linemen was $12.9 million. All of that would hit the cap at once so they won’t want to use it unless they have to.
But after seeing the issues the team had in pass protection with Williams resting against the Lions a week ago, you get the feeling that the Redskins won’t hesitate to slap the tag on Williams if a long-term deal doesn’t come to pass.