Welcome, Redskins fans, to week two of the Trent Williams contract/holdout/medical WTF-a-thon. Apparently, there is an immutable law in the universe that demands an organizational controversy from Redskins Park at least once every three years.
In Ashburn, VA, shooting is well underway for yet another episode of “The Smug and the Dysfunctional”. Except maybe this is that rare episode where the bad guy comes off as the voice of reason, because Trent Williams is not coming across right now as the steady, supposed “rock” of the Redskins locker room.
Has the Redskins front office ever been the good guy? Not for many a moon. But they did the right thing in 2015 when they made Trent Williams the highest paid lineman in NFL history.
As a result, early advantage in this dispute goes to Ashburn. Any GM in the NFL would be forgiven for thinking “We’ve got this guy locked up for at least five years”. And yet…
What we know about the Trent Williams Contract Situation
Jason LaCanfora, who broke this story about a week ago, appears to have been spot on with his reporting. No one is strongly refuting the basic points in his story, which are:
- Trent Williams is mightily irked at the moment and has threatened to quit the Redskins
- He’s perfectly healthy despite a recent health scare
- He’s got assloads of money in the bank and more on the way, but he’s not happy with his contract all of a sudden
- He’s also not happy with the Redskins medical staff, even though they appeared to do nothing particularly wrong here
Show Trent the money?
Didn’t we just do this?
Confused? Yeah, you and everybody else.
Incidentally, LaCanfora’s involvement in this mess has created a background hum that must sound like insult to injury to many area fans. Legions of DC faithful loathe him passionately from his six tumultuous seasons as the WaPo’s Redskins beat writer. Of course, it wasn’t LaCanfora’s fault that the team usually sucked; Redskins fans have a way of shooting the messenger. Nevertheless, his reputation as a smarmy passenger in the sidecar of the Redskins suck-a-cycle is at least somewhat deserved.
Back to Williams. The seeds of his discontent were likely planted years ago, forged during countless visits to the Redskins trainer’s table over his nine seasons. How many times has an MRI machine scarily clunked and rattled to life as it scanned for injuries throughout Williams’ body? How many times have his coaches begged him to play through the pain? How many times has he been the good soldier?
The answer to all of the above is a whole hellavalot. So maybe Williams feels like he’s owed? I could maybe understand that – if the Redskins refused to make him a one-percenter. But they backed up the money truck right to his garage.
Yes, the recent diagnosis and treatment of a benign tumor on his head also played a part in this. No one likes to hear the words “tumor” and “head” in the same sentence, especially when it’s your doc telling you what’s up. Emotions were no doubt on edge in the Williams family.
But who gets that upset – assuming Trent really is all that upset and this isn’t a show for dough – about a successful diagnosis and treatment! That’s cause for celebration in most people’s lives.
The Redskins medical staff appears to have properly identified the problem. Sometimes these things can take longer than we’d all like, which may have been the case in this circumstance (if the rumors are to be believed).
But medicine is an imperfect science. Trent walked away perfectly healthy; the tumor was spotted, then treated and removed. Certainly, no egregious malpractice occurred here.
So why is Trent’s jockstrap all twisted up?
This should be simple: if you have a problem with the doctor, take your concerns to team officials. If it’s your contract that’s upsetting you, talk to Bruce Allen and see what he’s willing to do. Don’t channel cryptic messages through a handful of teammates like this is some grade school romance.
Simply put, all this contract-diagnosis-doctor-disgruntled employee BS doesn’t pass the sniff test. It doesn’t make sense. Which is it? The docs? The team’s attitude? $10M a year isn’t enough for you? Are you pissed about your contract? About your treatment? About something else? Talk to us Trent.
If it really is a contract dispute, a resolution seems dicey at best. The Redskins don’t have much cash under the cap. Even if they did, Bruce Allen probably feels that he’s ticked the ‘Trent Williams Contract’ box already and shouldn’t have to tick it again so soon.
If it’s something worse, such as Trent having a steadfast desire to play for another team because his relationship with the Redskins has soured past the point of repair, then the Redskins are in some serious trouble in 2019.
Let’s all hope that Trent was having a bad moment, and he didn’t really mean all of that stuff, and that cooler heads have prevailed, or at least they will prevail by training camp, because…
Trent Williams is a good left tackle. Tyler Catalina is not.
As of today, the Redskins have officially ended the Ereck Flowers experiment at LT – and RT too for that matter. They are jettisoning Flowers to left guard, where offensive line guru Bill Callahan will attempt a tricky unsucking ritual at Redskins Training Camp later this summer.
So who is going to play left tackle if Trent is all serious and what not?
Tyler Catalina has improved dramatically since first signing with the Redskins as an undrafted Free Agent in 2017. That’s great, except he really had nowhere to go but up. The man was a human turnstile his rookie year; also-rans on various NFL defensive lines would regularly bull rush him into the Redskins backfield with minimal effort.
True, one does not expect much from a UFA, and that’s exactly what Catalina delivered in his first action as a Redskin. At least, however, there is one silver lining in all those offensive line injuries over the years; it gave guys like Catalina much needed experience.
Then Tyler got hurt as well, and missed significant time, because that’s what happens to Redskins offensive linemen.
“I missed out on all the experience playing with these guys” last year because of his torn labrum, which ended his 2018 campaign. “But it’s a blessing because I was able to get my body right. I feel like I’m five times stronger than I was probably heading into the season.”
Ok, that sounds nice. Lots of things about football sound nice in the summertime. Many of them turn out to be unmitigated disasters once September rolls around. If Tyler Catalina has to play any significant snaps at left tackle this season, the Redskins – and any development they might have been able to give to their rookie QB – are borderline dead in the water on offense.
The free agent market looks even bleaker. Go ahead, Google “NFL available left tackles 2019” if you want to, but be prepared to come away depressed about the search results. It’s friggin’ ugly out there. The only available guys are either ancient or shitty.
So to answer the question: just how screwed are the Redskins without Trent Williams? Really screwed, that’s how screwed. The offense simply won’t work without him, and Trent has not given the team enough time to find a suitable replacement.
We all know that the Redskins front office has blame to burn. But this one’s on you, Trent. The team made you the highest paid left tackle in NFL history a few years ago. What else can they do to make you happy?
Are those six-figure game checks clearing into your account on time? I bet they are. Time to earn those millions and just do your damn job, dude.