TINSMAN: Skins must end standoff with Trent Williams now

Brian Tinsman
August 05, 2019 - 2:45 pm

The bizarre offseason saga between Trent Williams and the Washington Redskins is threatening to spill over into the preseason — and we still don’t know why.

What we think we know is that Williams wants out after nine years of protecting the blind side of subpar quarterbacks. It’s hard to blame him.

Perhaps Williams is done working with a medical staff that couldn’t keep him from missing 13 games in the last three years. Maybe blaming the medical staff is a false flag designed to squeeze the team for more money.

MORE: Definitive timeline for Trent Williams' holdout

Whatever the reason, Williams has earned the right to state his terms — and the Redskins would be wise to make it happen, even if that means a new contract. It boils down to three reasons why:

  1. He’s what they want. Injuries have muted some of his freakish physicality, but Williams is still one of the best at what he does. He makes the team better when he plays, even while nursing injuries that keep him from practicing. Whenever possible, Williams has put the good of the team ahead of his longevity, sacrificing future earnings in the process. Williams has been gritty at a thankless position. What more could they want from a team leader? What message does that send to keep the medical staff of the league’s most injured team (fair or not) and throw away its best player?
  2. He’s what they need. The Redskins are betting big on rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins and they need to protect that investment. Remember Alex Smith? Joe Theismann? Robert Griffin III? Quarterbacks that sustain major injuries rarely return to form, and Williams is the team’s best insurance policy. Even if Colt McCoy or Case Keenum starts the season under center, every quarterback needs a tackle who can buy time and save his life.
  3. He can’t be replaced (right now). The worst-case scenario is that Williams can’t be appeased with a new deal and either sits out or demands a trade. The Redskins have no leverage on the trade market and leave the position in the hands of Donald Penn and Geron Christian. This creates a ripple effect on the rest of the offensive line, which has to work well as a unit. Even if they got back a top draft pick for Williams (very unlikely), that doesn’t help the 2019 Redskins. Throw in the fact that players pay attention to how organizations treat star players, and you have a recipe for long-term negative effects.

Feuds between management and elite players rarely end well for the team. At best, it’s a distraction that sucks focus and resources away from winning. At worst, it’s the thread that unravels a season.

This Redskins team has no margin for error in a competitive NFC East. The best path forward is to smooth things over with Williams, save face with the locker room and fans, and get back to football.

Brian Tinsman has covered D.C. sports since 2011, both from the team marketing and skeptical fan perspectives. Tweet your criticisms @Brian_Tinsman.