The Washington Redskins haven’t exactly been a pillar of excellence in the NFL over the last five years. Their organizational dysfunction appears to be carrying into 2019. All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams has expressed his displeasure with the franchise in a variety of ways, including a report that he would never play for Washington again.
Suffice to say, things aren’t going great, and the end doesn’t appear to be in sight. It’s now official that Williams will not be playing Week 1.
It appears more and more likely Washington will look to trade their franchise left tackle, as the relationship is beyond repair. They won’t have a lack of suitors; Williams established himself as one of the best blindside protectors in the league over the last half-decade or so. Health, however, has been a major concern. He hasn’t played a full season since 2013, and missed three games last season. Nonetheless, these three teams would be very interested in acquiring Williams for the right price.
New England Patriots
Aside from their deep love of trading mid-round draft picks for disgruntled veterans, New England is in need of a reliable left tackle after Trent Brown signed a hefty deal with the Raiders over the offseason. As it currently stands, the Patriots have experimented with 2018 first-round pick Isaiah Wynn at the position, and have shuffled in starting left guard Joe Thuney as well. But both of those players come with caveats; Thuney has only played guard in his NFL career, and Wynn is coming off a torn Achilles while having yet to play a regular-season snap. Wynn has looked healthy and effective in preseason, but the clock is always ticking in New England. O-Line coach Dante Scarnecchia is as good as they come, but he can only do so much.
Like with Michael Bennett earlier in the offseason, Williams would need to agree to a contract restructuring that would convert salary to signing bonus in order to fit him under the cap. But in exchange for the chance to come play for the Patriots, the antithesis of everything the Redskins are all about as a franchise, it wouldn’t be a tough choice. Williams would be an instant-impact guy and would be an improvement on a very good year by Brown last season. They’ll take the deal if they see the terms to be reasonable.
For the first time in a very long time, everyone loves and is excited about the Browns. For good reason, too; after a busy offseason, Cleveland has immense talent on both sides of the ball and an up-and-coming QB under center. The interior of their offensive line was a strength last year, but they couldn’t find a consistent answer at left tackle last season following the retirement of stalwart Joe Thomas. Right now, they have Greg Robinson at the top of the depth chart, and while he’s reportedly been good in camp… come on. The former No. 2 pick hasn’t caught on anywhere in five years for a reason.
Williams would be a substantial upgrade, and most importantly would prevent the various dangerous edge-rushers in the NFC North from flying around the corner and taking off Baker Mayfield’s head. The Browns are going all-in this season, and while their draft capital is lacking a bit after this offseason, sending off a third-rounder for an elite left tackle is a worthwhile investment– especially for a franchise that has finally found their quarterback after nearly two decades of desperate searching. Make the call, Cleveland.
The Vikings are hoping Year 2 of the Kirk Cousins experiment will come with more success than last year. One way to ensure that? Making sure Cousins has more than enough time to throw. His biggest issues as a quarterback is his inability to make the right reads under pressure and a tendency to fumble at the worst possible times. Minnesota addressed their interior offensive line issues by drafting Garrett Bradbury with their first-round pick, but more work can be done to bump this line from average to good.
Williams would present an immediate upgrade over incumbent blindside protector Riley Reiff. While Reiff has a decent claim to the best of Minnesota’s linemen, that isn’t saying much, and the difference would be substantial if they landed Williams. This year is a referendum on both the front office and Mike Zimmer; the team has only gone backwards since their NFC Championship Game appearance in 2017, and Cousins has yet to become the savior that was promised. The pressure to win is on everyone, and in a division with a ferocious Bears defense and Aaron Rodgers, all-in moves like landing Williams is a necessity.