(WCCO) — The Minnesota Vikings need to improve their offensive line. And left tackle Trent Williams, ostensibly of the Washington Redskins, needs a new team. So should the Vikings trade for Williams? The answer is a definite maybe.
The Vikings offensive line was a shortcoming in a season that could’ve gone further. The run-blocking was strong, with Dalvin Cook piling up 1,135 yards on 250 carries — a 4.5 yards per carry average — and leading the NFL for a good chunk of the season.
Pass-blocking also improved somewhat from 2018, when Cousins was sacked 40 times and had trouble holding onto the ball. But he still faced plenty of pressure last season, leading to 28 sacks and countless more hurried plays. Much of that came from the left side — Cousins’ blind side — where Riley Reiff held down the tackle spot. The 31-year-old Reiff is in the fourth year of a five-year, $58-plus million contract. He will cost the Vikings over $13 million against the cap, which is too much given his recent performance.
Williams is also 31 years old, but was a first-round pick two years before Reiff. He has been among the game’s best left tackles during his time in the NFL, making the Pro Bowl in each of his last seven active seasons (2012-2018). He excels as a run blocker and in matchups with speedy and powerful edge rushers in the passing game. And he’s done it while playing for the Redskins, one of the NFL’s worst and most dysfunctional teams. Williams protected Cousins during the QB’s three backup and three starting seasons in Washington.
Sometime in early 2019, Williams and the Redskins had a huge falling out. The star left tackle held out until the end of October 2019 and didn’t play at all last season. The reason, initially assumed to be contractual, actually stems from how the Redskins handled a growth on Williams’ head that turned out to be cancerous. The player had been alerting team doctors to the growth since the 2013 season. But the team didn’t seek a diagnosis until five years later, when it was found to be cancerous and promptly removed.
Williams has long since lost all trust in the Redskins organization, and it’s been obvious for awhile that he will never play for the team again. However, only recently has the team given him permission to seek a trade. Plenty of other teams, including the Vikings, are interested securing the services of a proven, top-flight left tackle who is still under contract. Though it should be noted that Williams, who is scheduled to make $12.5 million during the 2020 season, is looking to be paid somewhere closer to $20 million per season.
So what would it take to make Williams a Viking? In short, quality players and/or high draft picks. The Vikings have the 22nd (from the Buffalo Bills) and 25th first-round picks. One of those could appeal to a Redskins team with many holes to fill (including, presumably, left tackle) and likely to take defensive end Chase Young with its number-two pick. In terms of players, it would probably take someone the caliber of Anthony Harris, who the team seems interested in trading, or lesser players combined with draft picks. Reiff could be an option, since Washington will need someone to protect second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
A team coming off a 3-13 season has many holes to fill, so there are likely other trade scenarios that might get a deal done. Exploring them makes sense for a Vikings team positioned to make a run in 2020. The Redskins are hoping to receive as much as possible in any deal which, given all the interest in Williams around the league, could be considerable. Then again, the upcoming NFL Draft looks to be rich in quality tackle prospects, which could temper the cost of trading for Williams. And it should be noted that the Redskins also have a strong tendency to shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to personnel matters.
With all of these factors in play, the Vikings should make a move for Williams if a reasonable opportunity presents itself.