Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images
Washington will reportedly allow its talented left tackle permission to seek a trade. Could he fill Cleveland’s gaping void at the position?
Which raises the question: will the Cleveland Browns be interested?
Williams sat out all of last season after getting into a dispute with Washington’s medical staff over a cancerous growth on his head. While it was possible that those hurt feelings could be put to rest when Washington brought in a new coaching staff, that bridge appears to be burnt and Williams can now look for a trade, according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini:
The Washington Redskins are giving Trent Williams an opportunity seek a trade per sources.
— Dianna (@diannaESPN) March 5, 2020
The Browns reportedly offered a No. 1 draft pick for Williams early in the 2019 season only for Washington to pass on the offer. The Redskins called back at the trading deadline hoping that deal was still on the table, but it was the Browns that passed this time.
That was when John Dorsey was Cleveland’s general manager; now that Andrew Berry is running the show it is fair to wonder if he shares the same interest in Williams.
There is still a lot to like about Williams, who would undoubtedly be a major upgrade over former Browns starter Greg Robinson.
A seven-time Pro Bowler, Williams has one year left on his contract with a non-guaranteed salary of $12.5 million. He will turn 32 this summer and missed 15 combined games from 2015 to 2018. However, having sat out all of last year likely did his body good, so he should be as healthy as he has been in several years.
The Browns also hired offensive line coach Bill Callahan this offseason as offensive line coach. Callahan worked as the offensive line coach in Washington from 2015 through 2019, so he would be a familiar face for Williams.
The downside of a potential deal for Williams is that any trade would likely involve a new contract. While the Browns have cap space on hand, they do not want to commit too much of it to an older player when they have contract extensions on the horizon for defensive end Myles Garrett, quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Nick Chubb and cornerback Denzel Ward.
There is also the question of what compensation Washington will want in a trade. Cleveland’s No. 1 draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft – currently the No. 10 overall selection – should be off the table. But if they can package a few lower picks – say the second-round selection (No. 41) and possibly one of their third-round picks (No 74 or No. 90) – and the Redskins are desperate, then something could be worked out.
If the Browns could swing a deal for Williams and he is committed to playing, that solves one of three major holes on the offensive line. The Browns could then still use their No. 1 pick to fix the right tackle position, or fix that spot in free agency and then have the freedom to use that Day 1 pick to fix one of the several other holes on the roster.
It is still early in the process, of course, and just because Washington will let Williams look for a trade doesn’t mean the team has to follow through on any offers.
But given the Browns need at the position, it will be worth keeping an eye on to see if Berry wants to give Mayfield an actual NFL quality player protecting his back.