Redskins 10 Questions: When will Trent Williams return?

10 in 10: The Countdown to Redskins Training Camp

Craig Hoffman
July 24, 2019 - 8:15 am

Believe it or not, training camp is here. After one of the most consequential Redskins off-seasons of the last two decades, we’ll start to answer the biggest questions we have about the football team. 

With ten days to go until Richmond, The Fan started asking our ten biggest questions about the 2019 Washington Redskins. Today marks the start of camp with the conditioning test, but the Redskins best player won’t be taking it. That is just the start of our number one story.

1. Trent Williams

How good must a left tackle be to be a bigger story than an organizationally defining quarterback battle? As good as Trent Williams.

Williams might be the best left tackle ever from a skill standpoint. No one has ever moved like him at his position. He’s a sure thing as a pass blocker. He's smart as hell and tougher than he is smart. The only negatives with Trent Williams come in the area of reliability. 

Williams hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2013 due to injury and suspension. He played just 13 games last season before shutting it down as the Redskins were out of the playoffs and he had multiple injuries to repair.

Williams' play in spite of injury has been nothing short of remarkable. He played on a brutal knee injury at a fairly spectacular level in 2017 before finally having the first surgery of his career during that off-season. 

This off-season brought a different kind of surgery. Williams finally got a growth on his head looked at and eventually removed. The process to get there hasn’t been fully uncovered, but it caused somewhere between severe angst and a severe problem between Williams and the organization. It’s currently my understanding that Williams' holdout is contract related, though a damaged relationship might cause one or both sides to dig in a little deeper in what is ultimately going to be a high stakes game of chicken.

The Redskins are relying on 2018 third-round pick Geron Christian at tackle if Williams isn’t present. Christian’s rookie season inspired zero confidence. He was overwhelmed when he had to play before injuring his knee and going on IR. He missed the entire off-season recovering from said injury, which isn’t ideal for a player with extremely limited experience. Their other option seems to be failed former first-rounder Ereck Flowers, who Washington brought in to try at guard because he’s not a competent NFL tackle.

On the other side is Williams, who wants more money but is also making a lot of money. He’s scheduled to make $11 million in base salary, plus a $250,000 per game bonus. That means when Week 1 rolls around, Williams starts passing up about $700,000 per week. Is he really willing to do that? History tells us no, but even some recent history (Duane Brown, Le'Veon Bell) tells us it’s not impossible.

Williams is a franchise player. He’s the kind of player Dan Snyder reveres and can’t wait to put in the ring of honor one day. Snyder and Williams are thought to have an excellent relationship, and ultimately that could salvage this entire thing, but this is absolutely a high wire act being run by both sides that has massive ramifications on the Redskins' ability to be successful in 2019.

The good news is that Williams doesn’t really need training camp. He could show up in Philadelphia on Sept. 8 and be ready to play at a higher level than basically any tackle in football and certainly, with all due respect, Geron Christian.

As long as he shows up for Week 1, there can be a lot of angst and hand wringing and it won’t matter. The faster he gets with his teammates to build chemistry the better, but it’s not catastrophic if he misses a week in Richmond.

In other words, if “will he show up” is still a question leading into the season, the Redskins have a problem. If not, then the answer better be some version of “he’s showed up” or they look to be in deep trouble. For that reason, Trent Williams’s future in Washington is our number one question heading into training camp.

Question 10: Will Rob Ryan and Ray Horton have an impact?

Question 9: Who's the odd-man-out at middle linebacker?

Question 8: Can Montae Nicholson return to form?

Question 7: What impact will Kevin O’Connell have as OC?

Question 6: Who wins position battle at wide receiver?

Question 5: How will cornerback battle shake out?

Question 4: Can Derrius Guice stay healthy?

Question 3: Will Brandon Scherff get a contract extension?

Question 2: Who wins the starting QB job?

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