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The 5 O'Clock Club: Saying goodbye to Trent Williams

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere...

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

Trent Williams is possibly the most athletic lineman to ever wear a Redskins jersey. He was selected 4th overall by the team in the 2010 draft. He is the heart & soul and unquestioned leader of the Redskins offensive line.

Playing for a franchise that loves its offensive linemen, Trent is a huge fan favorite.

In a press conference at the beginning of August, a reporter asked Jay Gruden how Trent Williams could improve his game, and for the first time ever, I heard Jay say that he didn’t know how a player could get better; all the head coach could say was that Trent should ‘keep working’ every day. “Silverback” is 6’ 5”, 320 pounds, and in an effort to describe his footwork and athleticism, Jay Gruden once likened him to a ‘ballerina’.

Trent also turned 29 years old a few weeks ago.

He has a contract that pays him well. Trent signed his 2010 rookie contract before the new Collective Bargaining Agreement came into effect, so he was paid $60m for his first 6 years, and is now playing on a 5-year, $66m extension. That’s $126m in contract commitments from the Redskins for their star left tackle. He’s certainly earned the money, but — based on career contract numbers -- TW is the richest Redskin player.

He currently commands 8.6% of the Redskins salary cap space, has the 3rd highest salary cap hit on the team for 2017, and is one of only 4 Redskin players (Cousins, Norman, Kerrigan) to earn over $6m per season. Williams is a great player — and is paid like it.

Williams will be 32 years old when his current contract expires at the end of the 2020 season. He’s currently the 2nd highest paid OT (a whisper behind Okung) in the NFL, and one of only three OTs in the league with an APY of $13m or more.

When 2021 arrives in 4 short years, it will bring with it a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, possibly with changes to salary cap structure, and the likelihood of Trent Williams being a 33-year-old free agent, looking for one last payday.

While it’s possible for an offensive lineman to continue to produce at this age, the wear and tear on the body is significant, and it’s unlikely that Trent will need the money. He may not be interested in playing beyond the end of his current contract. Every player eventually reaches the end; this offseason, for example, saw the abrupt retirement of 32-year-old Brandon Albert (followed by an unusual effort to return to football).

It’s also possible that the Redskins franchise may not make an effort to keep Trent in the building in 2021. The Redskins just let two high-performing, high-dollar free agents walk out the door in Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. That caused a lot of angst among the fans and raised a lot of eyebrows in the media, but a lot of people also applauded the team for its decision to replace two veteran receivers with younger, cheaper options.

Of course, Garcon and Jackson came to the Redskins as free agents; Williams, on the other hand, was drafted by the Redskins franchise. By the end of the 2020 season, he will have spent 11 seasons as the starting left tackle. There’s a good chance that Trent ends up in the Ring of Fame someday; he’ll almost certainly be named to the list of “Greatest Redskins”, and its not inconceivable that he could someday get a gold jacket and a trip to Canton. Watching him leave to play for another team would be painful for most fans.

But good teams move on.

When will be the right time to move on from Trent Williams?

  • Should the team cut him prior to the end of his contract and enjoy the huge salary cap savings?
  • Should the Redskins let him walk when his current contract ends in 2020, potentially replacing him with a younger, cheaper player?
  • Or should the franchise extend him again — pay the man -- so that he retires a Redskin?

Contract details from OverTheCap

Poll

Question 1: What year will Trent Williams stop being the Redskins starting Left Tackle?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    2019
    (49 votes)
  • 13%
    2020
    (145 votes)
  • 19%
    2021
    (198 votes)
  • 62%
    2022 or later
    (644 votes)
1036 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Question 2: Who will replace Trent Williams as the starting left tackle of the Redskins?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Morgan Moses
    (63 votes)
  • 4%
    Brandon Scherff
    (43 votes)
  • 6%
    Ty Nsekhe
    (66 votes)
  • 3%
    a veteran free agent
    (32 votes)
  • 79%
    a Redkins draft pick
    (793 votes)
997 votes total Vote Now