As the morning editor of this here website, I have somewhat of a say in the words your eyeballs scan over after you click on one of our various links. As a whole, we have gone away from the headline, clickbaity type posts.1 We figure you already get push notifications to your mobile2 phones, tweet notifications for Schefter, Rapoport, Mortensen, Mary Kay, Grossi,3 Daryl Ruiter, and various other voices you prefer, and if any sort of news breaks, you’ll read about it there. We are much more interested here in going in-depth on what transpires, whether that be minutes after or days after. That’s why you are only hearing my take on the Trent Williams trade rumors now, days after this tweet from CantonRep.com’s Steve Doerschuk hit the timeline and made everyone lose their minds.
Hearing Trent Williams should be on Browns roster quite soon.
— Steve Doerschuk (@sdoerschukREP) October 15, 2019
All respect to Steve, but my very first reactions upon seeing this tweet Tuesday were without a doubt, “Who is breaking this?” and “I’ll believe it when I see a blue checkmark.” That’s just the atmosphere we are in for sports in 2019: always check for the blue checkmark or be ready to issue a “my bad dudes, got duped” text in Slack when you share the tweet from Adarn Sch3fter that announces Freddie Kitchens was relieved of his duties and Gregggg Williams is back as interim head coach. Regardless, Doerschuk *did* actually get the OBJ news before anyone else, because in Northeast Ohio you squirrel away all the past wins and never let anyone ever forget your past misses, so it bared watching. Eventually, some more “in the know” folk got on pumping the brakes, while others said Washington was “adamantly denying” reports of a Williams trade. Cut to yesterday when ProFootballTalk is reporting general manager John Dorsey has “had talks” with Washington without naming the monstrously big elephant on the offensive line, how Dorsey wants to upgrade the line and how ” that’s coming down the road,” and we see that Mary Kay Cabot is reporting that incumbent left tackle Greg Robinson has either been benched or is about to be. All signs point to Yahtzee.
But with everything, there were discerning voices. Analytic people shouting how Williams will not fix the offense in whole, that while keeping Baker Mayfield upright and in the pocket is important, there are surprisingly bigger fish than left tackle to…well…tackle. Identifying that playcalling, drops, ineffectiveness from Mayfield in reading and deciphering defenses are more paramount issues. They aren’t wrong, but what is upgrading from Robinson to Williams going to hurt?
Yes, Williams is holding out because he is a free agent after the 2020 season and he wants a long term deal, just about when Mayfield and Myles Garrett extensions will become a thing we need to worry about and coinciding with Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, and inevitable others will want more money as well. Yes, Williams also is 31, with one four-game suspension for PEDs and a year missed to injury, hardly making him the stalwart ironman Joe Thomas was previous. But he does represent a HUGE upgrade over Robinson, who hasn’t played well but hasn’t played poorly either, and locking in the Pro Bowl tackle would add multiple things to this franchise: another veteran to help settle the locker room, someone to watch the blindside of franchise QB Mayfield for the foreseeable future, and would greatly impact some of the issues on the field.
We all admit that playcalling has been the biggest issue, either due to head-scratching plays that seemingly end in failure before they even begin or because the quarterback doesn’t trust the protection of his line and moves out of the pocket to make something happen. Would Williams’s presence help calm the rattled nerves of Mayfield when he drops back? One would definitely think that would be the case. That allows for Mayfield to stay in the pocket for longer and hopefully allow for more down-the-field action that the coaching staff seems to crave like Browns fans want a win. We can have the argument about whether or not those plays are what’s best suited for this roster and player personnel another day, but it would satisfy the need and desire to make this team more prepared for the end of this season and the playoff push it will bring, as well as years to come.
As for what it would cost, which is something of contention on Twitter,4 a 2020 first-round pick will be necessary, plus other pieces. Some have reported that Dorsey does not want to give up yet another first-round pick after trading away 2019’s for OBJ, but in this case, you get a similar franchise-altering player in Williams, so pull the trigger. As for the other players going to Washington, many have hypothesized two of David Njoku, Genard Avery, or Rashard Higgins would be paired with the pick to satisfy the blow. I desperately want to figure out what Avery has done to get so in the doghouse of defensive coordinator Steve Wilks to be dactivated for every game thus far this season, but if we are not going to play the man, we need to trade the player.
Higgins was a healthy “scratch” in the Week 6 defeat to Seattle, not playing a snap despite having chemistry with Mayfield and Antonio Callaway being the goat for the Monday Night drubbing at the hand of the 49ers. Same situation: if you aren’t going to play the better player, then you should trade the better player. Obviously, there are inherent flaws in this premise, but nonetheless, if you can get 85% of production from Callaway instead of Higgins and Higgins has more trade value, it makes asset sense to pull the trigger. Higgins being a free agent after the season obviously has an impact on trading him to a rebuilding team, which makes Njoku the more obvious want for the Redskins.
Njoku is under contract for this year, next year, and then has the fifth-year option that follows former first-round picks like a badge of honor and regret. You might get a fifth year of security, but you also don’t get as much as you might on the open market. As for why people would rather hold off on dealing away Njoku, he represents one of the issues with this Browns team: unrealized potential must eventually be realized or else it because wasted. Njoku has the speed, hands, and athleticism to be a force in the league, but has yet to put it all together, whether by injury or inconsistency. Picture it this way: you have a name-brand coat that is too small for you, you always fumble with the sleeves when in a hurry, it just doesn’t look right on you. Do you hold onto the coat because you paid top dollar for it or do you trade it away? Keeping Njoku around simply because he has an ability you are unable to get out of him is irresponsible.
Hypothetical questions I answer myself time
Do the Browns and Dorsey pull off a Williams trade before the deadline? I’m at 60% yes. Will it help this year’s playoff push? Absolutely. Will fans be upset at the return Washington gets for Williams, whether it be from Cleveland or if he is dealt to another team? Of course. No matter the situation, Browns fans will always be upset. But that’s the nature of the beast. Go get our man, Dorsey. We know you want to.