Trent Williams holdout more about medical than financial misgivings

Chris Lingebach
July 30, 2019 - 12:09 pm

The Redskins enter the second week of training camp still without starting left tackle Trent Williams.

We know Williams isn't in camp, and it has something to do with either wanting more money and/or the medical staff's handling of an offseason medical scare. What we still don't know is if Williams' relationship with the organization is beyond the point of repair.

To that end, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports is the only one to report thus far that Williams has demanded a trade or his release, a June report upon which he doubled down on Sunday.

The Redskins came out with a statement Sunday shooting that report down, flatly, as "100 percent false."

La Canfora did tell The Junkies on Monday there could remain a possibility to "mend fences," although he was firm in his reporting that Williams informed the Redskins he wants out and does not intend to report to camp.

Longtime Redskins reporter John Keim joined The Junkies on Tuesday, attempting to explain the nuance of this complicated situation.

"So we had Jason La Canfora on yesterday and we've had him on obviously throughout the offseason," Eric Bickel said. "And he's been kind of the key guy out there reporting that it's way beyond just sort of a contract thing."

"Oh, it's definitely beyond that," said Keim. "I think from the jump there was talk about that. You would hear that. Anybody you'd talk to, who was close to him, who has talked to him, would say that it's more of a medical thing. And so, I think the only part that I – and it's been hard to really find out – is could money appease him at all? Could more money do that? And that's the part I don't know, but I've always felt like it's more the medical side."

"But why does that fall on Bruce (Allen)?" asked JP Flaim. "Is it just because Bruce is in the position? Like, to me, it's not his fault if there's a misdiagnosis for something medical."

"Obviously these guys are gonna disagree with the portrayal of those guys having some sort of fractured relationship," said Keim. "I think they've still been in contact, I believe, so I don't know that it's to the point... my reporting hasn't taken me there, and I know what they say, so you can process that however you want.

"But I think the other thing is, if it is about that, then I think it's more than just the medical. I think it's about, is there a confidence, and trust in building things the way you need to? Are you tired of things the way they've been going on here over the years in his time here? So if that's what's going on, then I would take the jump and say maybe it's more than just the medical, but right now, I'm gonna go with the medical."

"The one thing that Jason's sort of been adamant about, though, and he seems to be more adamant about it than anybody else, is that he really has no intention of playing for the Redskins at this point," Bickel said. "But he's the only guy really reporting that."

"Yes. But I would say, like, I have heard some of those things, too," said Keim. "Like in recent days especially, more so, that, yes, he has told some people that that might be the case. But even some of those people aren't convinced that when push comes to shove, that he would be elsewhere. And trust me, I'm not saying anything about Jason's stuff. I'm not shooting it down at all."

"Right. He's getting it from somebody," Bickel said.

"He's getting it from somebody and I've heard some things, too," Keim agreed. "So I'm not knocking that down or discrediting him at all; I just don't know that it's to that point. I'm gonna say this: If it had been to that point, I don't think that, organizationally, there are some things that maybe some people would have pushed to do differently.

"So for example, maybe draft somebody. Make it a priority to draft a tackle, another tackle, because you had (Geron) Christian last year. So get another tackle for competition because you also lost Ty Nsekhe. Something like that. Or, then trade him or something like that. It never got to that point. So, either they've calculated this really, really poorly, or really, really wisely."

"And you can go back to the Kirk Cousins, there was some of that stuff, too, where some people here thought they would sign him," he went on. "But even with that one, there were people in the organization I would talk to who would say – after the '16 season – 'you gotta trade him.' So even then, you would hear people disagreeing with maybe keeping him, not thinking they didn't have a chance. In this one, I haven't gotten that full sense."

Since this conversation aired, the Redskins have flown in veteran offensive tackle Donald Penn, who is literally en route right now with the intention of signing a one-year contract. That doesn't entirely mitigate impact of reality the Redskins face. They're without their starting left tackle of the last nine years, and their initial plan to do without him has already fallen through.

Asked if Williams continuing to hold out would prove disastrous for the Redskins, Keim said, "Right now, I think it's the left side of the line. It's not just tackle, because, right now, I don't feel like there's a viable starting option for 16 games on this roster, because Ereck Flowers hasn't shown that he can do it."

The Redskins also brought in offensive tackle Corey Robinson, who lacks critical starting experience.

"We've seen what (Flowers has) done in the NFL previously to coming here, and I don't know that you're seeing anything in camp that's any different than what he's shown in the past," Keim said. "We'll see when the games start. Give him a chance. Maybe (Bill) Callahan can work something with him. We'll see."

"But the other problem is they wanted him to play left guard, so they wanted him to compete with Wes Martin for that starting left guard spot, so now you don't have the same competition at left guard, and you're a lot weaker at left tackle. So now you could go into the season with a rookie left guard and Ereck Flowers at your left tackle."

Hopefully, for Washington's sake, the Penn signing can put them back on track with the original plan.

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