Trading for Trent Williams may be too risky for Cleveland Browns
By Dan Justik
The Cleveland Browns are expected to pursue a trade for Trent Williams, but making a move for the disgruntled left tackle may be too risky for the Browns.
The Cleveland Browns have long been connected to Washington Redskins left tackle Trent Williams, dating back to before the 2019 season. With Cleveland’s dire need to add a left tackle this offseason, Williams seems to be a natural fit.
Williams did not play in 2019 after having issues with the Washington organization as a whole. He requested a trade, but the organization did not oblige his request, until the last-minute at the trade deadline.
However, with a new leader in the front office and a new head coach, the organization is allowing Williams to seek a trade this offseason as Washington knows his tenure with the team is over. The Browns have been one of the teams widely expected to pursue a trade for Williams, and they are believed to be a team that would interest Williams.
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The Browns have the need at tackle, have cap space to potentially offer a new deal, and their offensive line coach, Bill Callahan, coached Williams for four seasons in Washington, excluding the 2019 season when Williams missed the entire season.
However, although the Browns appear to be a perfect fit for Williams, it is a trade that may be too risky for Cleveland. Washington is expected to try to get a significant return to move the offensive tackle, despite having seemingly little leverage.
Because Washington does not have a second-round pick in this year’s draft, it would make plenty of sense for Washington to request the No. 41 overall pick from Cleveland. But the serious questions about Williams’ ability to stay on the field may make it hard to land that pick.
Williams has not played in all 16 games of a season since 2013, missing 16 games from 2014-2018. His issues with Washington and its medical staff stems from how they handled a growth on Williams’ brain that ended up being a rare form of cancer. The growth was found by Washington in 2013, but it was not determined to be a form of cancer until 2019.
Although sitting out for the entire 2019 season allowed the 32-year-old tackle to return to full health, there is concern that sitting out for an entire season would make it difficult for Williams to return in game shape and make it even tougher for him to return to being the high-level player he was for many seasons.
There are serious worries about Williams’ health and durability, especially if the Browns would be forced to move a second-round pick or more. Washington does not have much leverage with the Williams situation, so it could be hard for them to land a top pick. However, they could gain leverage if several teams enter a bidding war for Williams’ services.
Another risk for the Browns would be the idea of giving Williams a new contract. Williams’ agent has said the trade request was not because of a contract, but the expectation is that Williams will want a new deal so he can land one more lucrative deal before the end of his career. He is entering the final year of his current deal and would most likely want some contract security from the team who trades for him. In that case, Williams would likely seek a multi-year deal averaging around $15 million or more.
Paying an offensive tackle with a history of not being able to stay on the field that type of deal is a risk, especially since Williams did not play for an entire year. If Williams would once again deal with injuries once he returns would make a deal of that stature a regrettable move.
When healthy and on the field, Williams proved to be one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL. However, with all of the questions surrounding Williams and what it may take to land the veteran, it is a trade that could be too risky for the Browns to pull off.