Free agency involves more than just free agents.
During this time of the football calendar, general managers and head coaches are more open to the winds of change. Sometimes that means via trade. Some trades can be minuscule, swapping backup players for late-round picks, but others can be blockbusters and franchise changers.
We've seen players like DeAndre Hopkins and Stefon Diggs get moved already, and now there might be another big-name player in a new city: Washington offensive tackle Trent Williams.
Williams being on the market is nothing new; it dates back to 2013.
Williams was diagnosed with dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP), a form of cancer. In April, he had a surgical procedure done to remove a growth from his head. Williams was not happy with how the Redskins handled knowing about Williams' DFSP. It brought a serious rift between their relationship, and Williams demanded a trade. As a result, he didn’t report to the team's mandatory minicamp, and the Redskins placed Williams on the did not report list.
The team tried to trade Williams during the season but didn't get an offer worth pulling the trigger. At the beginning of March, the Redskins allowed Williams and his agent to seek a trade, but here we are today and Williams is still a member of Washington's organization.
However, per Williams' agent Vince Taylor, they did find and brought trade offers to Washington but claimed the Redskins "have shown no interest in negotiating under good faith." Taylor then asked for the Redskins to move on with it or release Williams.
Williams is 31 years old and will be 32 before the start of next season. He has played nine years in the league and has been a seven-time Pro Bowl. Williams is highly regarded as one of the best at his position. In 2015, he signed a five-year, $68 million contract including an $8.1 million signing bonus, $41.25 million guaranteed and an average annual salary of $13.6 million. The 2020 season is slated to be the final one of that deal; he will get paid $12.5 million in salary.
Williams isn't going to agree to get traded anywhere without a verbal deal in place. From NFL media reports, we're told the numbers he's shooting for are pretty high. This has forced teams to not want to give up a high draft pick since they will also be giving Williams a big chunk of change.
ESPN's Josina Anderson recently reported the Redskins were starting negotiations with a second-round pick. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, teams aren't wanting to give high pick and high capital.
The second part of Taylor's request asks the Redskins, if they can’t find a trade partner, to release Williams and allow him to sign elsewhere. Williams is a $14.5 million cap hit this season but only carries $2 million in dead cap if released.
One would think it would be a bit foolish to just let Williams go, so if the rubber really meets the road, it sounds like Williams will be dealt for a mid-round pick. We saw good players like Jurrell Casey and Calais Campbell go for Day 3 picks this free-agency period.
Whether released or traded, it seems more likely than ever that Williams will be playing football elsewhere in 2020.
New York Giants
The New York Giants have made some smaller splashes in free agency. They signed linebacker Kyler Fackrell and Blake Martinez as well as cornerback James Bradberry. But they still have a big need at offensive tackle.
These signings likely set them up to take an offensive tackle at No. 4 in the 2020 NFL Draft, but what if they made a move for a player like Williams instead? This would free them up even more with such a high pick, perhaps to go after linebacker Isaiah Simmons.
The Giants could also potentially get more aggressive and trade up in the draft to get Chase Young. The possibilities become vast if they grab a strong, starting-caliber offensive tackle like Williams.
The Cleveland Browns need to upgrade their offensive line and could do so with the No. 10 pick. The Browns also have the fifth-most cap space right now at just under $49 million and can afford to grab Williams. He’d play opposite of Jack Conklin, who Cleveland recently signed at right tackle. It would give the Browns a lot of versatility with their top-10 pick.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After signing quarterback Tom Brady in free agency, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have to be all-in on protecting their new signal-caller. The window for Williams as a Pro Bowl-caliber player might only be two or three years, but that's also the span of Tampa Bay's winning window.
The Buccaneers have Donovan Smith at left tackle right now, but the addition of Williams could allow them to kick Smith to the right side to replace the aging Demar Dotson. This would then free the Buccaneers to draft a player like Javon Kinlaw with their first-round pick in the draft.
The Buccaneers might be spending near $10 million on defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. But they could take that money and put it into a Williams deal instead then draft a top interior defensive tackle in the draft.