All throughout the 2019 season, the relationship between elite left tackle Trent Williams and the Washington Redskins appeared to be unsalvageable. But after installing a new regime spearheaded by head coach Ron Rivera, the relationship between the team and its star left tackle appears to be in the process of being mended.
For the Redskins, it's been a year of cutting ties to the past. Since the beginning of the 2019 season, they've dumped coach Jay Gruden, interim coach Bill Callahan, team president Bruce Allen, longtime head athletic trainer Larry Hess, cornerback Josh Norman, and tight end Jordan Reed. But Williams is one component of the past that the Redskins are hoping to bring with them into a new era of football under Rivera.
Two weeks ago, Rivera indicated that he was still hoping Williams had a future in Washington. Now, according to a report from The Washington Post's Les Carpenter and Mark Maske, we also know that the Redskins believe that there's a "strong chance" Williams will play for the team in 2020.
From the Post's report:
New Coach Ron Rivera remains intent on convincing Williams to rejoin the team, according to that person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Getting Williams to play for the Redskins again is "still a huge focus for Ron," the person said, adding that the "tea leaves" indicate Williams will be back.
This would, obviously, be a huge get for Rivera -- as big as any potential free agent addition. Williams has long been one of the league's top left tackles. The fourth-overall pick in 2010, Williams has been voted to seven Pro Bowls in the nine seasons he's actually stepped on the field. Since he entered the league, Williams is tied for 14th in approximate value among all offensive linemen even though he sat out an entire season.
As the Redskins head into March with three-time Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Scherff hitting unrestricted free agency, maintaining some semblance of stability up front is likely a priority, especially after factoring in the development of second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who had the misfortune of operating behind the league's second-worst pass protecting offensive line during his rookie season, per Football Outsiders. Losing two top offensive linemen in Williams and Scherff would be far from ideal.
It never looked like the Redskins would be able to retain Williams as the 2019 season unfolded. Williams was/is unhappy with how the team handled a serious medical situation. According to Williams, the team told him a growth on his head was minor. It ended up being cancerous, with Williams saying he almost lost his life.
Williams, who demanded a trade or release in June, held out over the summer and for the first half of the season before reporting to the team after the trade deadline. But Williams never appeared in a game, and in November, he said he'd never play for the organization again.
Since then, though, the Redskins have rebooted and replaced the old regime, which could've placated Williams, who is entering the final year of his contract. The Redskins, ideally, would welcome him back to protect Haskins' blindside. But if Williams declines to rejoin the team, trading him before he walks in free agency a year from now would probably be the prudent move.
A ton of teams would kill for a tackle of Williams' caliber, with the Redskins clearly being one of those teams.