Cleveland Browns set to pursue Trent Williams in blockbuster trade
By Greg Newland
The Washington Redskins standout left tackle was in John Dorsey’s sights last year at the NFL trade deadline. A deal was never finalized, but it was not from a lack of effort from the Browns. With Williams reportedly having permission to seek trade offers, can Andrew Berry get the job done in 2020?
The breaking news on March 5th was the Washington Redskins have finally agreed to allow Trent Williams to seek a trade. Williams has been unhappy for quite some time, but the Redskins were helpful the change of scenery with Ron Rivera coming in as the next head coach would change the tide.
Unfortunately, a series of issues with the medical staff created a situation the was too much to overcome, and the star left tackle appears to be on his way out. With that, the big question now is will the Cleveland Browns pursue Trent Williams in a trade.
In addition to that question, we have to ask what will it take to get the 31-year-old tackle to Cleveland? Unfortunately, A lot. John Dorsey pushed and pushed to get Williams at the trade deadline in 2019 but was not willing to pay the high price demanded by the Redskins at the time. Although the Redskins have less leverage than in 2019, they will likely be after the Browns No. 10 pick this year to complete the deal.
What is the biggest upside to trading for Williams? The Browns would fill one of their biggest needs with an experienced, 7-time pro-bowler who has performed at the highest level when healthy. Williams will also likely be highly motivated to get on the field after a tough go the past 12 months in Washington.
Look back at Mitchell Schwartz and Cameron Erving who both ended up with the Kansas City Chiefs after disappointing stents with the Browns. With a change of scenery and a new opportunity, they both improved substantially with Schwartz earning All-Pro honors. Could Williams have room to get even better with a change of scenery?
It’s easy to believe and get excited if you are a Browns fan. The last and possibly most important factor to remember is the Browns recently hired Bill Callahan as their offensive line coach, who just so happened to coach Williams from 2015-2019 and would be a familiar face.
What are the downsides to trading for Williams? The Redskins will likely push for a first-round pick, but I’m hopeful the Browns will take that off the table quickly. A better option for Cleveland would be to offer their second-round pick (No. 41) along with one of their third-round picks (No. 74 or 90) to seal the deal.
Perhaps the biggest two downfalls to trading for Williams are the fact he turns 32 before the 2020 NFL season, and he hasn’t played a full season since 2013. Not to mention Williams will need a new contract after the 2020 season, likely demanding big-time money. The last thing I will mention is Williams was suspended four games in 2016 for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Keep in mind the Redskins voiced they had an interest in Denzel Ward around the trade deadline last year. While Ward has slightly underperformed, mainly because of injuries, I still can’t think the Browns would want to move on from him.
It’s possible you could see another player like Christian Kirksey or David Njoku thrown in to entice the Redskins. That scenario may save the first-round pick for the Browns. Luckily for Cleveland, the Reskins have little leverage as Williams clearly wants out. With only one year left on his deal, they would likely lose him for nothing in return after the 2020 season.
The Browns certainly have the need for Williams and have the cap space to resign him long term, with not many other teams in the NFL having both. There should caution giving the Redskins a first-round pick given Williams age and past injuries. It would be wise to lean heavily on Callahan for advice, searching for what this guy has left in the tank.
While this is a huge risk, anytime you can get an established Pro-Bowler it’s hard to say no. Look at how many first-rounders the Browns have wasted in the last 20 years, at least we know this guy can play.